Con (with) soul: a unique individual spirit created by God and “worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:26-31.) Each soul has infinite value to God as His beloved child, regardless of their position, possessions, popularity or works in the world.
Con (with) sole (heel of our feet) To CONSOLE is to walk side by side someone who is in solitude; to accompany them, making a concerted effort to be there for them without trying to fix their situation.
One of our favorite virtues we discuss as a group is accompaniment: encouraging those who God brings into our lives and being there along the way with unconditional love. That is harder than it sounds. Many of us have a tendency to want to fix things for people. Perhaps our intentions are good, but this can be rooted in pride: pride because we think we have the answer; pride because we don’t think God will do what He promises; pride because we think we just know better than the person who may be suffering before us.
One of our friends said she was talking with a priest about watching those around her suffer. She thought that she was getting in the way of letting God fix things, as she was trying to do it all herself. He corrected her immediately and said “No. God doesn’t ‘fix’ things. He walks with us and consoles us.” It isn’t that He doesn’t help us, but because of our free will, original sin and our choices, we sometimes must go through situations, rather than around them. We need to emulate Our Lord more often in consoling the suffering around us.
This upcoming Sunday’s gospel was rich in fruits that the Holy Spirit brought to light for us as we gathered.
Matthew 10:24-39 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)
24 No disciple is above his teacher, no slave above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, for the slave that he become like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul,[a] how much more those of his household!
Courage Under Persecution. 26 “Therefore do not be afraid of them. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.[b] 27 What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. 30 Even all the hairs of your head are counted. 31 So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. 32 [c]Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. 33 But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.
Jesus: A Cause of Division. 34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. 35 For I have come to set
a man ‘against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
36 and one’s enemies will be those of his household.’
The Conditions of Discipleship. 37 “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and whoever does not take up his cross[d] and follow after me is not worthy of me. 39 [e]Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
- Do not be afraid…this gospel tells us three times not to fear, and it is said that the bible in total says this 365 times. Each day has its own graces and problems and each day God has us in His hands. God knows our hearts and knows fear is a natural inclination, yet it is worth Him telling us over and over again not to be afraid, especially when sharing the Good News.
- You are worth more than many sparrows...the value of each soul through the eyes of God is unfathomable. We sometimes forget our worth and don’t feel worthy, but we have value because we are God’s creation and that doesn’t depend on me. It only depends on Him.
- I have not come to bring peace, but the sword…In Ephesians 6:10-17 it tells us that the “sword” is the word of God. We have the word of God in us when we seek Him and that makes us His as well.
- Do not think I have come to bring peace…this may seem harsh to the world that this seems to say we would have to be pitted against family, but when we follow God and put Him first, we cling to His providence and truths. When we FULLY trust Him we detach from others who may be misguided or are following the wrong paths. God loves each member of our families more than we do! He knows what to do with difficult situations. We must just look to Him and not deny Him. We can get trapped by trying to please others. We just need to trust in Him.
- Do not think I have come to bring peace…the world view of peace is complacency. This is not the case. Peace is not complacent. Family is important but God is first and following Him bring the peace we seek. “Peace surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7).
The Case of Sunny’s Sister
Covid 19 began and things that were already difficult got worse. A partial layoff from her job and no longer able to afford her own place, she moved in with her brother and his wife. Her health had declined and her knee was giving out. The doctor had said before he could perform surgery, she needed to lose 30 pounds. But how? The pain was horrible and to lose weight would mean to exercise which seemed impossible. To make things worse, her insurance would be changing and in order for the surgery to be covered, it would have to take place before the end of June. It all seemed impossible. Was the universe against her? If it hadn’t been for her sister-in-law, Sunny, it would be so much worse.
Sunny wasn’t just family, she was a dear friend. She took her in when things got tough and stood by her. Encouraging her sister-in-law that she could lose weight even just with certain dietary changes, a dietitian was hired and a food plan arranged. Soon the pounds began to fall off.
A couple of weeks later, a scale was purchased. The first frightful time she ascended the scale she was amazed to see she had lost 18 pounds! It wasn’t the 30 the doctor needed in order to schedule the surgery, but it showed effort and determination. Only, with all that was going on she didn’t feel determined. She just felt beat up. Even this substantial weight-loss was nothing compared to the despondency that had taken a hold of her.
“Just call! Call the doctor and tell them you have made huge progress and can they just go ahead and schedule the surgery before your insurance runs out?” Sunny continued to tried to break the spell of discouragement from her sister-in-law and friend. Just a few days before, Sunny had had her own prayer group meeting where the assignment for the week was to “speak a specific truth–from a disposition of love–to someone to whom the Holy Spirit guides.” Sunny knew that truth breaks us free, and her sister-in-law needed this truth to begin her path to restoration. “I am going to be your accountability partner,” Sunny explained to her. “I am going to check with you tomorrow and make sure that you made that phone call to the doctor to simply ASK to be put on the schedule.”
The next day came and went and it was late afternoon when Sunny checked on her sister-in-law. Still no call had been made, but one more final push from Sunny seemed to give her the courage she needed. After the call, she looked wide-eyed at Sunny. “They scheduled me! For the last available date in June! There were no more surgery dates available after that. I got the very last one for the whole month!” Astounded at the change in her attitude, Sunny knew that her beloved sister-in-law was going to be just fine. There was still a long recovery period after the surgery, for which Sunny would be by her side all the way.
Virtue: Hope. Fortitude. Diligence.
How we will pray: Pray with Matthew 10:26-31 from today’s gospel reflection which struck us all so deeply, that our value as human beings is so unfathomable. Worth many “sparrows”.
How we will act: Share this gospel with someone who needs encouragement and needs to be accompanied. Many people in despondency don’t understand their value and so we will impart their value and dignity back to them. We will make a concerted effort NOT TO FIX THEIR PROBLEM or try to fix it. Only to ACCOMPANY them.