Meanwhile, when the crowd gathered by the thousands, so that they trampled on one another, he began to speak first to his disciples, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, that is, their hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops.
“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! 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.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Often we wonder what it was really like to be one of those who “first hoped in Christ.” To be physically in Jesus’ presence. To see and be seen by him. To receive a hug and hug him back. To actually hear him tenderly and reassuringly say, “Even the hairs on your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.”
There’s a real longing for love in the wondering. It seems to us though that the longing is very human, no doubt shared by us all. It’s quite something, overwhelmingly consoling really, to let yourself humbly long to be loved by Jesus. We can let ourselves long for his love, trusting that our desire will not be denied, because that very desire was planted in our hearts by God in the first place.
Pope Francis when asked about his own praying, his own longing to be in Jesus’ presence, said that he often began his prayer with a reading from scripture and then he just sat there and he let Jesus/God, “take a look at him.” WOW!
Imagine just sitting silently, for a whole hour, and letting God take a look at you! Talk about nothing concealed, no secret unknown, nothing said in darkness not now in the light! What faith Francis has in Jesus’ love and mercy!
Maybe today, taking a cue from Pope Francis, we can take time to sit silently and let ourselves long to be with Jesus. Let him simply look at us. Let him count the hairs on our head. Let Jesus love us. We know we can do this courageously and confidently because we are among the recipients of the first installment of our inheritance, the Holy Spirit — God-With-Us, who fans the God-given embers already burning in our hearts and souls into a fire of love and mercy for us.
—Martin Massiello, a hospital administrator, and Jeffrey Weyant, an artist and designer, work in Palm Springs CA. They are members of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church and active at Verbum Dei, the Cristo Rey high school in Los Angeles CA.
Jesus, help me feel your love and know your mercy today;
that my heart, filled with gratitude, ignites a fire in my will
to serve the poorest of my brothers and sisters. Amen!