June 22, 2008
A New York businessman was undergoing some serious personal problems. It became apparent to him that he would need the help of a professional psychiatrist. But if he was going to do this, he wanted the very best psychiatrist available. After consulting with a number of people, he decided upon a psychiatrist with a fashionable address on Park Avenue. He entered the well-appointed waiting room but found no one in attendance. As he looked around he saw that there were two doors in the waiting room, one marked “men” and the other marked “women”. So he opened the door marked “men” and walked in. He found himself in a second very well appointed room with again, two doors. One was marked “introvert” and the other was marked “extrovert”. So he thought for a moment and chose the “introvert” door. He found himself in a third room, again with two doors. One was marked “those making over $100,000.00 a year” and the second: “those making under $100,000.00 a year.” He walked through the door marked “those making under $100,000.00 a year” and found himself again on the Park Avenue sidewalk.
All of us have, in one form or another, experienced rejection from others because we do not fit the definition of what they consider desirable. Our world tends to limit value and worth into certain limited categories: those making over $100,000.00 a year, those who are well connected, those who are attractive. In this way of thinking, if we do not fit in to one of those limited categories of wealth or influence or beauty, we are expendable, we do not have value.
Today’s gospel challenges our way of thinking about value. It challenges us to see the world and our self differently. It does so by presenting a truth and a strategy. The truth in today’s gospel is a truth about God. The gospel tells us what God considers valuable, what God considers important in creation. The revelation is that God considers everything valuable. God does not just value the blockbusters of creation like the Grand Canyon or Mount Everest. God values that shady corner in your back yard. God does not only care about the impressive creatures that God has made like the eagle that soars in the mountains. God also notices and cares for the sparrow that can be bought for a half a penny. For God, value is not rare. It is not limited. For God, value is universal. God values all things including the details of creation. That is the truth.
Here’s the strategy: I believe that today’s gospel is calling us to see the world and ourselves the way that God sees us. I believe that the gospel is calling us to value everything, even the details of our lives. And why is this important? Because the more that we limit value to only certain categories, to only big moments, to only important people, then the majority of our life will be value-less. The more that we are willing to write off a particular moment because it is ordinary, or a particular person because that person is not that interesting, or a particular opportunity because that opportunity does not look like it will produce income, then the majority of our life becomes barren and without joy. It is, then, more and more difficult for us to recognize our own worth and value, because value is limited only to rare categories of people, moments, and things. But the more that we can see the world as God sees it, the more that we can see the value in every person and in every moment, the more that we can rejoice in the details of our lives, the more that our whole life is filled with value. Then it is easier for us to recognize the true value that God has given to us.
So that is the strategy for this week. Try to notice the value in the details of your life. Take time to appreciate the humming bird buzzing around your garden, the glint in your daughter’s eye, the courage that a co-worker struggling with a difficult burden, the patience of your spouse, or the laughter of a close friend. God notices all these details of life and so should we. The more that we notice the value of a sparrow, the easier it will be to see the greater value that surrounds us. Then it will be easier to see how all of creation has been wonderfully and lovingly made and is fused in with a deep worth and value, a worth and value in which we share.