“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)
This tender little passage is part of a greater speech of encouragement that Jesus gives the twelve apostles about their mission to courageously proclaim the Good News. Just this morning I heard similar encouragement from a colleague who is a counselor in a large Catholic school. I was relating to him that I feel we are all too apologetic and cautious about sharing faith. His excellent response was positively contagious: “Who else is going to want to get excited about it if you aren’t?”
Being somewhat of a bird watcher, I think Jesus uses sparrows for more reasons than a simple comparison about worth. I have mentioned before how much my husband and I enjoy the birds that grace our yard. Over the past few years, we faithfully have fed them through all seasons, and we have watched their population grow both in breed and number. This year we added lazuli buntings and indigo buntings to the roughly two dozen regular breeds. And we are especially pleased to have a number of different birds that like to keep the insect population down in our garden!
But, to my point, they are so enjoyable to watch, so spontaneous, so utterly, courageously themselves. The way the cardinal cocks his red head to the side quizzically; the way the swallow dives full-throttle for a beetle; the way many breeds kindheartedly perch wing-to-wing sharing the feeder; the utter shock of indigo blue that shimmers in the morning sun on the bunting’s back; the pheasant’s beauty; the turkey’s waddle. They just wholeheartedly are what they were created to be.
That’s what Jesus wants of us, and that includes proclaiming the Good News as naturally, spontaneously, courageously and wholeheartedly as we possibly can. Who else is going to get excited about it if we aren’t?