15 October 2010

The Smallest Dignity

Saint Teresa of Jesus
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
SS. Domenico e Sisto, Roma

Glory, grace, splendor, worth, nobility—all synonyms for “dignity.” We use words like person, individual, soul when we talk about humans beings. Human dignity then is something like the worth of the individual, the grace and glory of a soul, the splendor and nobility of a person. In Christian theology, we don't use this kind of language to describe the social standing of a person, his/her rank or class in society. When we talk about the dignity of the human person we do so only to reference the image of God that each of us bears, that reflection of the divine that each of us embodies as creatures of a loving God. Whatever nobility, grace, and grandeur we bear as His children, we bear it as a gift, an endowment from the Father's limitless abundance. When Jesus tells the disciples that nothing escapes the notice of God's providence, he is reassuring them that they are never alone, never abandoned, never lacking what they need. If He cares for the smallest sparrow, how much more does He care for us?

To say that nothing escapes the notice of God may seem threatening to some. It could bring on a sense of paranoia about being observed by the ever watchful eye of an all-powerful being. But Jesus isn't trying to scare us into obedience nor is he trying to warn us to be good boys and girls b/c God is watching and listening. Our Lord knows that preaching the Good News comes with dangers, first among these is the threat of persecution for his name's sake. He knows first-hand that opposition to the gospel is fierce, immediate, and often deadly. Yet he reassures his disciples that any opposition—no matter how fierce—can only touch the body, never the soul. God alone cares for both the body and the soul. Therefore, if we will set ourselves against either the world or its Creator, we are wise to choose to stand against the world and preach the Good News without fear, without hesitation.

Paul writes to the Ephesians that we are God's possessions. That we are sealed with the Holy Spirit promised to us. That we are chosen “so that we might exist for the praise of his glory.” We exist to praise His glory. And in praising His glory we are dignified, made glorious, made worthy. By preaching the Good News—with opposition or without it—we offer the greatest praise we can offer. Do not be afraid. If our Father loves the smallest sparrow, how much more does He love us?

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1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:07 AM

    I would love to see this expanded. I feel it is too short, I love it anyway. This is just something I would love to hear/read more about and hear/read more of your thoughts on.

    Thank you, I, apparently, needed to read this today.