More Precious than Sparrows

28th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday (Year II)

Luke 12:1-7

Meanwhile, so many people were crowding together that they were trampling one another underfoot.

Sounds like rush hour in a New York City subway. In another manuscript of Luke, the crowds were “choking each other.”1 The Gospel writer used hyperbole to emphasize Jesus’ growing popularity. 

Jesus began to speak, first to his disciples, “Beware of the leaven—that is, the hypocrisy—of the Pharisees. 

Leaven (zumé)—aged, sour dough often translated as “yeast”—symbolized the spreading influence of concealed evil in this passage. Like an invisible virus, hypocrisy (hupokrisis) infected the community and sickened the spirit with little detection. The status quo enabled authorities to carry out their religious observances masked in piety and honor. Leaders and followers participated in the same masquerade.

“There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops.

Under the divine gaze, nothing is hidden. The ego-protecting buffer zone of human respect is an illusion. No barrier exists between God and creation. Every action, thought, word, and intention transpires in God who sustains all being. The communion of saints in the Trinity is utterly transparent and free. Jesus’ warning is a gift of divine mercy, as truth cleanses and purifies the soul for divine union.

I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more. I shall show you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna; yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one.

Hypocrisy and human respect flow from the same source: the fear of the judgment of neighbors. Carnal persons prioritize visible realities over invisible ones, public image over authenticity, the body over the soul. Bodily life is secondary to purity of heart; sin is worse than death. The martyrs proclaim that God alone is to be feared. 

Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.”

Jesus’ warnings and rebukes are all gifts from a loving Father who desires our ultimate beatitude. From the greatest to the least, every child of God is invited to return to the Father in repentance and love. We are his beloved children.

-GMC

1 Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J., The Anchor Bible: The Gospel According to Luke (X-XXIV), Garden City: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1985, p. 954.

5 Replies to “More Precious than Sparrows”

  1. Lately we are all so occupied in trying to control the future that we are forgetting the present. Where should we turn? Who is the best candidate to lead us out of this hole. I have to admit that for the last few months I have isolated myself from others. You could say that my fears have drowned out God’s will for me. I have stopped listening to my Heavenly Father and shut myself up in a little cocoon physically, spiritually, and mentally.
    But, the other day as I read an excerpt from one of St Paul of the Cross’ letters it opened a small tunnel back into the world for me. This is what I read:
    “Do not let your heart become too occupied with thoughts of the future. Such thoughts can distract from the present where God’s Will is. Let all your desires be to please God and to live trustingly like a baby in the arms of God’s will. ”
    I’ve started to do that, may His Will guide me out of the cocoon I created for myself. God I trust in You!! Be the reigning force in my life and in this world now and always.

      1. In his book, A Story That Needs to be Told: A Legacy of Faith, Father Owen Lally CP says about suffering: Do not say stop to the Lord. Instead say to the Lord increase my capacity to receive you. I, too, hurt with the effects of the pandemic. You are not alone. I offer you my meager prayers. Thank you so much for sharing with us.

  2. For the sake of accuracy. More specifically, in his therapeutic narrative, the words about suffering were said by the spiritual director of Father Owen Lally CP.

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