June 21, 2020; Mathew 10: 26-33; 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Over the last few months one thing that has become very clear to me: Dogs love the coronavirus. When I look out my window, I see more and more people walking their dogs. The owners are rather sad and pre-occupied, checking their cell phones and staring off into space. But the dogs have an entirely different demeanor. They could not be more pleased. They literally prance down the sidewalk, wagging their tails, sniffing the air, and pulling their owners this way and that. It is impossible to know what a dog is thinking. But the other day a happy little beagle stared and me, and I would swear that he was saying: “This is my third walk of today and I am in heaven.” We do not know if dogs can catch the corona virus. But obviously they don’t care. Sickness and pain are for another day. In the present, dogs are completely focused on enjoying that strange sent in the air, the new bush they just discovered, or the other dog they see on the horizon. Dogs find joy in the things around them, and there are very few things that escape their notice.
Now if you will excuse the comparison, this is a characteristic one that dogs share with God. We know that God is responsible for the whole world and everything in it. Yet we believe that God takes joy in the world in this present moment and that nothing escapes God’s notice. The gospel today says that not even a small sparrow falls to the ground without God’s knowledge and care. God does not pass by the opportunity to delight in that sparrow. God is always extending love and care to all that is, even to things that do not seem that important. We should do the same.
I know that the last couple months we have been overwhelmed with huge issues: a health pandemic, social unrest. But even as we appropriately address all of these major concerns, we should not rob ourselves of the joy that comes from the small things around us. The new recipe that we just tried out which came out much better than we expected should not only be acknowledged but savored. An unexpected call from a friend who was just checking up on us should not only be welcomed but celebrated. The new picture that our 6-year-old grandson has drawn for us and proudly displays on Zoom should not be an occasion to lament the fact that we cannot embrace him but be received as a wondrous gift that can make us happy.
We can find joy in the smallest things and that joy can give us the strength to face the major issues in our lives. That is why the gospel calls us today to live in the present and find joy in the small good things around us. Now we will not be able to do that as well as God does it. We might not even be able to do it as well as our dog does it. But we can do it. And we can begin today.