Last Sunday morning, Vimeo suffered a system-wide failure across the country at 10:30 AM, precluding us from being able to broadcast. That included my three answers to questions submitted by parishioners! So what to do? Well, I thought I’d answer one each week in the Corner. Here’s the first:
Good evening Father Rob,
I asked my grandmother, Nancy Hanson, this question a while back but she thought you might be able to give a good answer at your upcoming brown bag sermon this Sunday.
At one of the readings during the Wednesday night prayers read by Vashti, a question came up for me: In Luke 12:6-7, it says, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.” This part is actually highlighted in the Green Bible!
I was confused about this part because it seems like we’re told to take comfort in being worth more than animals, which seems counter to me. Wouldn’t all living entities have equal value? I don’t like the idea of being valued more than another life, animal or human. Do you have any insight about these verses?
So I think this is a case where a rhetorical device employed by Jesus to make a point gets extrapolated out in some interesting directions when you start really getting into the granularity of it. The point of this passage is not a treatise on the relative quantities of love God feels one species versus another, but rather to employ a bit of a logic. To wit: if God is mindfully aware of simple creatures with short lifespans, such as sparrows, then why do people think that God is ignoring them? This message is intended to be a balm against those who feel the despair of feeling spiritually alone in the universe, and a word of warning against those who might be tempted to think that God isn’t watching when they choose to sin.
To take that much longer passage of care and comfort and lift out a single sentence as emblematic of a larger theology of humanity’s role in creation would be to contort that message far beyond what was originally intended.
Thanks for the question, and more to come!