Homily July 15th, 2023

Saturday of the 14th Week in Ordinary Time – Mt 10:24-33

            There is an interesting phrase in today’s Gospel: “Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?” On this image hinges the explanation that follows: “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.” The meaning of this text is pretty straight-forward, but Jesus is very deliberate in the words and examples He uses in order to make it clear just how much God cares for us. There are two things we can consider: first, the value of that coin, and, second, an interesting parallel text in Luke’s Gospel.

            The coin that Matthew mentions is an assarion, a bronze coin worth very little. “A Roman bronze penny was equivalent to the sixteenth part of a denarius, that is, basically nothing. And yet not even one of those beings, for which nothing is paid, falls to the ground without the permissive will of the Father of heaven. And, since ‘you are worth more than many sparrows,’ adds the Lord, how much more careful is He of us, how much more so that His permissions are always ordered to our good! And in case we had not understood, He makes another comparison: in our case God not only provides for our life, but also for the very least of our hairs: all of them are numbered and each one falls to the ground only when God wants it.”[1]

            This meaning is reinforced in a parallel text in Luke 12:6, “Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God.” Here, the prices seem to have changed! Instead of two for a coin, we have five for two! This might seem like a minor detail, but, in fact, Biblical scholars tell us that these are probably the real prices of the day. Jesus uses the example of sparrows because they are of little value, and here we see how true that is. Scholars assume that sellers would give a free sparrow if you bought four, because they are worth so little. It’s a case of buy four, get one free. The point isn’t to consider marketing strategies in Biblical times, but rather to see that Jesus uses a very deliberate example. One sparrow out of five is literally worth nothing, and yet God cares for it with an exquisite providence. How much more will God care for us who have been bought with Christ’s most precious blood?!

            Today, we can ask ourselves about how much we really trust in God’s love and providence. Do we really believe that He actively cares for us, looks out for our every need, and is constantly doing good to us? Through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, let us ask for the grace not to be afraid and to have trust, confidence, in God and in His goodness.

[1] See Miguel Fuentes, Our Fears.



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