“Every hair on your head has been counted”. But, I wonder, do you know what the overall number might be? In terms of providing fairly close to useless information, the average number of hairs on the average human head is evidently about 100,000. Some of us, it is fair to say, have a fair bit less than the 100,000. However, you can always console yourself if you recognise that the rest of the human body has around 4.9 million hairs, so it is not all about your head!
In these days of closed hairdressers and barbers, the worry is maybe not so much what number of hairs we have on our head, but what length our hair is or what colour is it showing.
Anyway, Jesus uses this image of the hairs on our head being counted in order to deliver a vitally important and profound truth. He uses this image to describe the infinite love of God for each one of us.
Sometimes we can carry the image of a God who is of such greatness and power that he only really concerns himself with the big picture, with the global situation. A God who therefore cannot really spend time considering countless, inconsequential individuals such as myself. Jesus words give the lie to this way of thinking. Once you begin to consider what it really means for God to be infinite, it tells of a God who, precisely through his infinite nature is able to care for, love and guide everyone, individually and without exception. God’s greatness and God’s care of each of us go together in perfect and total harmony. God is infinite and therefore has an infinite level of time and space for each person on this earth.
God is so great that He scoops the oceans in the palm of His hand, and yet He is so close to us that He can number each hair on our head. Even the falling of a little sparrow will never escape His attention. Jesus encourages us that if our Father is intimately involved in the falling of one sparrow, how much more is He involved in our everyday lives!
So we are invited to be able to recognise more deeply the God who constantly wants to come into our lives.
Could this be something that we can reflect upon in these days? How often recently have we heard that people are discovering more and more what is truly important, what really matters, what truly gives us life?
People are finding that their inner selves are being revealed in ways that are not always forthcoming. They are finding themselves being able to decipher the truly important from the unimportant, being able to distinguish the things that matter from those that are ultimately irrelevant. Often that is taking us into the realm of relationships and to the preciousness of family life.
Look again at today’s gospel. It contains a mantra like phrase that repeats itself not only here but in so many instances throughout the gospel – “Do Not Be Afraid. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; do not be afraid because you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows –
In front of this truth of the care and love of God for each individual, we surely must reflect on the way in which we position ourselves to be able to receive the love of God. Do we believe that we are created to be a dwelling place for God and his love? Do we welcome then the daily invitation to allow the way of God to overtake me and to bring us more and more to life in him?
Hopefully we do and that we recognise in faith that there must be the constant activity of preparing in my life the way of God. If that is so, it flows from that truth that the greatest value in our lives is simply to continually receive the love of God, To believe that God in His infinite care for us asks us to open our lives to his grace and his gifts. Alongside this channel of receiving, there must also be the possibility of our giving – of giving what we have received, of channelling to others what is given freely to us. This process must be constant, fundamental to who we are and vital in relation to who we are to become.
Twelfth Sunday A
20th June 2020.