June 25, 2017—The Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading 1: Jer 20:10-13
Responsorial: Ps 69:8-10, 14, 17, 33-35
Reading 2: Rom 5:12-15
Gospel: Mt 10:26-33
So, I found a gray hair the other day. Just one—a lonely, wiry, soul-crushing gray hair. And, after my minor freakout in the car, I pulled it out and continued on with my day. But that still haunts me a little. 31 years of no gray hairs, and now…it begins. Slowly but surely, my body will start to grow older. My thick hair has already given up in the fight against the barrage of pregnancy and mama hormones in the past three years. Now, it’s getting harder to climb up and down those stairs every night, and I feel like my joints are getting pretty good at predicting the weather.
All in all, kiddos, your mama isn’t so young and spry any more. This Southern California/Orange County mentality would tell me to do a cleanse/detox/”don’t eat anything but cayenne pepper and lemon water for 10 days.” (Seriously? I can’t go 2 hours without eating carbs or chocolate.) They might tell me to start Crossfit or yoga or pilates. They might even rave about the newest supplement or essential oil that can make me feel young again. And as well-intentioned (and healthy) as those things might be, I would be seeking them out for the wrong reasons.
See, this 2017 version of society equates your body with self-worth. If your body doesn’t look right or work right, then YOU aren’t right. But, you know, we are more than that. C.S. Lewis is quoted as saying, “You are not a body. You are a soul—you have a body.” Even though he didn’t actually say it—and even though the Tumblr/Instagram world has taken this TOTALLY out of context—it shows something. We are this incredible combination of body and soul—not just body, not just soul. Both are important. Both make us human. Both contribute to our identity and self-worth.
Jesus talks about this too. He compares us to the sparrows, saying that “Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31). We’re worth more than MANY sparrows! Think about that for just a second…
Jesus didn’t say that the sparrows don’t matter, but people do. He didn’t say that his followers are important, but other people aren’t. He didn’t even say that you’re worth just as much as a sparrow because everything is equal. No, no, no, no, no. He says that sparrows are so important that God the Father cares when every one of those tiny birds falls to the ground. Every living thing is important and worthy of love.
But, then…he also says that we shouldn’t be afraid of anything because God thinks we are worth more than many sparrows. So, kids…if He pays that much attention to the little birds, he REALLY pays attention when something happens to you! He really cares! It really matters! We aren’t alone in our moments of worry and grief. We aren’t alone when we feel scared or uneasy. Whether something is threatening our body or our soul, we are not alone in this—-because God the Father is watching and listening and caring about it all.
Even the (gray) hairs on our head.
Even the crazy, stressful weeks.
Even the sleepless nights.
Even the moments of silly, unnecessary anxiety.
Even the moments of grief and heartache.
Sometimes, we can feel alone in our struggles. And, I totally get it. God seems pretty silent during some moments of our lives. Sometimes, I hear the voices of the rest of the world loud and clear—but, God’s voice seems like just a faint whisper. And, when I don’t take time to sit and pray, it’s even harder to hear Him. But, God wants to be present to our bodies AND our souls.
So, that’s why I don’t detox or do pilates to do a quick boost to my body. Or stress over gray hair. Because God finds value in my human body. God sees me as beautiful and worthy of love, even in my imperfections and achy joints. Our bodies are the way that great things are done in this world—like serving someone or cooking people delicious food. They’re also the vessels to bring great things into this world—like you three!
(That being said, this summer needs to be the summer of eating better, exercising more, and getting our healthy lives back after six months of “survival mode.”)
So, body and soul—God the Father loves you.* And your dad and I love you. Not just your body. Not just your soul. But, ALL the wonderful, glorious parts of you.
Nicholas, God gave you “smiling eyes” (as Lola calls them!) and a joyful heart. My gosh, kid! Your laugh can brighten up even the darkest of days. Thank you for being so full of love and life!
Josiah, you are so strong! Even at six months, you push up and rock back and forth like a champ, kid! And, on the inside, your heart is so pure. The way you interact with each person you see shows me that you’ll have awareness and compassion for others as you grow up.
Elizabeth, my sweet girl! Those dimples are just adorable–too hard not to kiss! But, oh, you have a formidable spirit already—destined for overcoming obstacles, just like you do as you crawl across the entire house. You have strength in your spirit, little girl.
I love you, I love you, I love you!
*I know that people are tired of hearing that “Jesus loves you.” And, in reality, I think you probably already know most of what’s in this letter. Nothing ground-breakingly new here. BUT…I need the reminder of what love really looks like some days. And, I definitely need to be reminded that I’m found worthy by the One who made me. So, like it or not, here’s yet another version of the message that should resonate deeply in our hearts—Jesus loves YOU.)