We are worth more than hundreds of sparrows - Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > We are worth more than hundreds of sparrows - Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

In the first reading today we see the Prophet Jeremiah in a desperate state. He is overwhelmed with his troubles saying things like:
• I hear so many disparaging me
• Those who were my friends watch for my downfall
• They are saying, “Perhaps he will be seduced into error.”
• His enemies are saying, “We will take our revenge.”

Jeremiah is experiencing extreme rejection for his efforts to carry out his prophetic task. His message delivered in his preaching to the people has been rejected, especially his warnings about destruction coming upon Jerusalem. The people do not want to hear what he is saying and they turn against him.

Even his friends have rejected him. He feels alone and abandoned. There is an intense struggle going on within him. On the one hand he knows what God has asked of him. On the other he feels deeply the personal cost of doing what has been expected of him.

Earlier with a certain bitterness of spirit he says to God that he feels that he has been seduced into the task of being a prophet, and adds, “And I let myself be seduced.” He comments on his lot in life as a prophet: “The word of God has meant for me insult, derision, all day long.” He wants to escape this personal anguish, but he finds that the call of God is, in his words, like “a fire burning in my heart”. He feels trapped.

His faith flickers in his soul. He has not so turned to despair within that he has refused all help. He has not completely surrendered to his negative thoughts.

Thus he musters up his faith and says, “The Lord is at my side, a mighty hero.” Despite his afflictions that eat at his spirit, he knows that God is with him. And he knows that in the end he will be vindicated because, as he says, “I have committed my cause to you.”

We respond to our experience of personal difficulties in various ways. We can turn in on ourselves and wallow in our misery. We complain and despair of our future.

Or we can, like Jeremiah, reach out to God. This is the path Jeremiah chose. From the depths of his anguish he cried out to God. And from a place of personal darkness light begins to flow in on his soul. His spirits are lifted. Hope dawned afresh.

Not that his outward circumstances had changed at that point. He came to sense that he was not alone in his struggles. He came to believe that things would in some way work out.

This is a deeply human story with which we can all identify. We have all had moments of darkness when all seems lost. We can see no way forward. We are tempted to sink back into a sense of hopelessness.

Yet, there lives within us the flame of faith. Stirring up this flame brings relief from the darkness.

The reading today ends with the Prophet saying, “Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord for he has delivered the soul of the needy.” From feeling isolated and abandoned he experiences new hope dawning in his soul. Indeed, his heart is lifted up in praise of God. The storm clouds have lifted.

Several times in the Gospel today the Lord says to his disciples, “Do not be afraid.” We can look around at the world, at our society, at issues in our own life, and find ourselves falling into fear. We can fear for the future. We witness so many things, like the pandemic, over which we have no control.

Today, we hear the Lord offering words of comfort. He says to his disciples that you can buy two sparrows for a penny, and yet not one falls to the ground without the Heavenly Father knowing. He then comments, “And you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows.”

You are worth more than hundreds of sparrows. Consider your worth in the eyes of the Lord. Whatever we may think of ourselves in times of darkness, look at how God the Father sees you.

This is the great sadness around the push for euthanasia. A bill will be presented in the Upper House here in Tasmania in the coming months. Legalising assisted suicide is allowing our society to say to a person that their life doesn’t count. It is a declaration of an abandonment of hope. Assisted suicide fails to see that every human life is precious in God’s sight. It fails to understand that God will accompany every person on this last and critical journey – the journey from this life into eternity. Euthanasia is a denial of the goodness and mercy of God.

Every time we say the Hail Mary we ask the intercession of Our Lady, “Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.” The Christian does not despair in the face of the ultimate threat of death, rather the person of faith turns to God. God is there. He will accompany us into the shadows and to the light beyond.

The Christian knows that our life is worth more than hundreds of sparrows.

Archbishop Julian Porteous
Sunday, June 21, 2020

Watch a recording of the Mass here.