In today’s Gospel Luke tells us, “Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.” The image of the beloved sparrows has always been a favorite of mine. I can’t imagine a clearer image of how to describe the love of God for each and every one of us no matter who we are, no matter what our faults and failings may be, no matter how poorly we may even think of ourselves.
A while ago, I had the privilege of celebrating the Eucharist with approximately 60 young men, I was deeply moved by these young men and how they seemed to hunger to understand such a profound mystery that many of us take for granted in our daily faith life as Catholics. It was a wonderful time of prayer together and, after the Mass, there was an opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This, too, was a very moving moment as I listened to young men describing their struggles in life, their self doubts about their own goodness, and their uncertainty as to the unconditional love that God has for each and every one of them.
How fitting the image of the sparrows, so seemingly common and ordinary, yet dearly loved by God who knows each and every one of them more intimately than they can possibly appreciate themselves. Isn’t this true of you and I, each of us so immeasurably loved by God, redeemed by his own beloved Son; yet, in the midst of so much love we can still so easily find ourselves doubting our goodness, even our worthiness to claim that God loves us unconditionally?
What a grace-filled moment to be able to share with these young men, so precious yet so fragile, that God loves them and sees more of what he loves than their failings. Rather, God looks deeply into the soul and sees an image of Himself, divinely created, intimately loved. How grateful we are today for Luke’s words:
“Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.”
Fr. Pat Brennan, C.P. is the director of Saint Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat and Conference Center, Detroit, Michigan.