Thought for the week - 25 June 2023
There are things that we do in the darkness or in secret and often for very good reason. Obvious examples might include having a shower – there is a point in frosted windows after all – and using the banking app on our phone – we don’t want people seeing our passwords. Also, there are things that we do in darkness and in secret which would really be better brought out into the light – nights of anxiety and fear, unhappiness, intrusive thoughts and so on. Although these things may seem deeply personal, they are in fact shared by many, if not everyone and a shared experience can make the reality of it easier for us to bear. If we spoke to each other as we speak to God, maybe we would be happier because we would share these things.
I have undertaken a good deal of ‘secret’ ministry. As you may know, I have worked in deliverance ministry for some time, and the battle that individuals or places can face with the forces of evil are personal, intense ones that are not to be paraded before others and made into a spectacle as some churches do. I have also prepared people for Baptism who would be subject to so-called ‘honour killings’ if their conversion was known, and I have been involved in setting up support for domestic violence victims. All these things are for good reason undertaken in the dark, away from public view. There is a time to be seen and a time to hide away.
In the Gospel today, Jesus tells his disciples that there is nothing secret or covered up which will not be uncovered and made known to Him, and that we are to proclaim to the world what He tells us in the quiet of our own hearts. The good news is that we are to do this amongst each other. There is nothing more powerful than witness born among friends because what we actually preach is the extraordinary message that we can be friends with God. And when we bear witness of that friendship with God it is not to make anyone feel worse. It is to show them the source of all mercy and forgiveness, to preach this love that God has always had for his people, so we are actually expected by God to share our problems, our weaknesses and strengths and to support each other in times of difficulty.
It is certain that Jesus has a sense of humour, if it were not so, he would not have been fully God and fully Man. We get a glimpse of that humour here, when He reassures His disciples that they are worth more than many sparrows. It is not immediately clear what comfort we might be expected to take from this! A sparrow might not fall to the ground without the Father’s will, but this makes it no less likely that it will fall to the ground. We might be worth more than many sparrows, but if two sparrows can be bought for a farthing, as Jesus says they can, many sparrows might not be worth very much at all. So it is that we begin at a very low bid, and the sparrow will, at some point, come to grief and fall to the ground as Christ Himself did on the cross, which He (somewhat sarcastically) prefigures here in his words to the summoned Disciples when he offers a very tongue in cheek reassurance that we are worth more than many sparrows.
‘My name is Andrew and I am worth more than many sparrows’ might not be a great advert for our faith, but it is true, because every sparrow is noticed by God and everything we do in the darkness is brought to light – what He means is that the darkness of the Cross is turned to the light of the resurrection, and that has been accomplished, for us all once and forever. We are no longer sparrows, but His friends, and we have been saved. Therefore, let us celebrate in our family god times and mark bad times, and share with each other our darkness and our light. If we have not love, we have nothing, not even a sparrow.