Sparrows for Sacrifice

[Can’t preach on Sunday. But if I could, I would say this…]

shofar temple feast

Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. (Matthew 10:29) [Spanish]

Our forefathers of the Old Covenant waited for the Messiah. They didn’t know what His name would be. They didn’t know what He would look like, or exactly what He would do. But they believed in the coming Christ.

After all, God had formed an alliance with them. He had promised good things. The ancient Israelites knew God would fulfill His promises. History would make sense. Life would have meaning. Our desire for justice and truth, for real happiness in an upright, honest life—God Himself would fulfill all those desires. Somehow. God knew how, and He would do it.

In other words, the ancient Israelites believed in Divine Providence. They had no doubt that God would send His Christ to make everything right. And God did send His Christ.

Through Adam sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all… But the gift is not like the transgression. For if, by the transgression of the one, many died, how much more did the grace of God, and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ, overflow. (Romans 5:12,15)

Before He came, the ancient Israelites waited, trusting. And now we Christians know beyond a shadow of a doubt: God loves us. He loves us with the love of a kind Father. Christ crucified reveals the full extent of the Providence of God. The Father loves us this much; He loves us with the “amount” of love evident on the cross. And that amount = infinity.

crucified handI think most of us have this in common. Loving Jesus from earliest childhood. Believing in Him as the Savior, as the One Who has atoned for sin, Who has revealed the Father’s love. We know that God loves us, because of Jesus.

Meanwhile: the cross teaches us another important thing, too. If I might, maybe I’ll get a little personal here.

I have vivid memories of how my vocation as a Catholic, and as a priest, began. Thirty years ago, the Lord helped me see not just the infinite love of the Father when I gazed at the crucifix. He also helped me see: the total trust of the Son, the absolute trust of the incarnate Son in His heavenly Father.

Jesus gave Himself over into the Father’s hands, trusting so absolutely that He died fearlessly, even serenely, on Mt. Calvary. The Lord helped me see how this trust of Christ on the cross could be a whole way of life—a way of life for all of us, and especially for us priests.

God will provide. I have nothing to fear. I myself may be obtuse and difficult; I may have a weak nature, prone to selfishness. And there are plenty of other people in this world who have the same problems. So we run up against each other in conflicts sometimes.

But I can still dive headfirst into the great pool of love that is Christ’s Church, without holding anything back. Because I have no evil to fear. Jesus trusted—unto death. And the heavenly Father took care of Him, lifting Him up from the grave, to immortal, heavenly glory. So the Father will take care of me, too.

Right now, our parishes suffer confusion and dismay. I suffer confusion and dismay. A terrible storm has engulfed us, and there’s really not much any of us can do about it. So let’s focus on this:

God sent His Christ. He provided everything necessary for us to get to heaven. And it didn’t happen without wounds.

Temple aromaThe two sparrows which got sold for a small coin, which the Lord Jesus said our heavenly Father had His eye on—they didn’t sell those sparrows, in the Temple courtyard, for pets. They sold them for… sacrifice.

The workings of Divine Providence don’t involve some happy-happy-joy-joy merry-go-round ride. No. God’s entire plan revolves around one precise center point: Mount Calvary. We have an altar at church for a reason: so that we can offer ourselves in sacrifice, along with the Body, Blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus.

For our parishes, these are terribly painful months. It is a moment of sacrifice, genuinely wounding sacrifice. But we trust. God provides. Jesus said: Do not be afraid!

So why should I feel discouraged, or why should the shadows come?

Why should my heart be lonely, away from heaven and home?

When Jesus is my portion; my constant friend is He.

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Video versions of what you just read…

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4 thoughts on “Sparrows for Sacrifice

  1. Thank you, Fr. Mark, for your continued blogs. They are true blessings.
    I have been sharing your words with Jim Fitzgerald a former parishioner of St. Joseph, Martinsville. He moved to New York several years ago. He doesn’t have access to the web and due to COVID-19 he cannot attend his parish Our Lady of Good Counsel Church of Staten Island.
    We love you, Father Mark. Thoughts and prayers to you.

  2. Fr. Mark, when I saw the title of your blog this morning my memory instantly went to when I heard you sing
    “His Eye Is On the Sparrow” at a mass several years ago. I wondered whether you might sing it again at the end of your posting and you did. Thank you.

  3. The consistent theme I see throughout the entire bible is simply this. In the Old Testament God richly Blessed His chosen people and no matter how much God promised His unfailing love and fidelity to man if they would only keep His commandments, man failed God and yet God remains true to His word. In the New Testament, Jesus promises eternal life for those who believe in Him and even though Jesus’ word is true, we fail Him. No matter what God does for love of us we MUST respond according to His Divine Will or else we must answer for it come judgment time. The greatest gift God gave us, our free will, can either save us, through His Divine Mercy, or consign us to everlasting hell.

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