INVALUABLE: A HOMILY ON THURSDAY, 31ST WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR II, IBADAN
YOU ARE INVALUABLE
Whenever we fill out forms, we are often asked about our age. Also, in hospitals, they will take your blood pressure, measure your height, and weight, etc. This can give us the impression that a human being can be measured or quantified. A human being however, is invaluable. The value of one person is so much that it is even hard to speak of ‘One Person’. One person is acctually not just one person. Personally, I dont like counting people. People are not things that can be counted. Even when we say there are three people, are those people just three?
Think of the Love that God has for us. God is that Shepherd in the gospel today who does something that can be considered foolish. He has a hundred sheep and one of them goes missing. It would be foolish to leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness of all places, and go off in search of the one that is missing. The foolishness of his behaviour is in the fact that he risks loosing the ninety-nine. Wow, is this how much value God has placed on me? He is a ‘mad’ lover. He loves you enough to risk the life of ninety-nine good people in order to save you. Notice how, when He found the sheep, He takes it on his shoulders. This is a sign of love and intimacy. He even throws a party in honour of the lost but found sheep. My novice master, Fr. Richard Thiele CSsR, now 91 years old used to tell us that each time you are tempted to sin and you overcome the temptation, your place in heaven grows higher. Jesus tells us today that each time a sinner repents, a great party is declared in heaven. That is how invaluable you are.
As if that is not enough, He is also like the woman who can be called foolish. She had ten drachmas and she lost one of them. Then she sweeps the whole house, and searches thoroughly. When she found it, she went to invite her neighbours, telling them to rejoice with her. The neighbours may have said ‘Is that why you callled us? We thought you were calling us for something serious.’ Yes, we often look down on ourselves and even on other people, but God places so much value on you and on me. God loves you as if you are the only one He loves.
IF YOU ARE INVALUABLE?
If God places so much value on us that we are invaluable, then what value do we place on God. One thing that makes it clear that a person has repented is that the person’s value system will change. Some things the person used to consider very important will no longer be so important, and some things the person used to neglect will become very important. For example, when I was a little child, I used to be angry that our parent would wake us up very early to pray. Today, I get angry if I oversleep and miss my early morning devotions.
St. Paul in the first reading tells us of some things that used to make him feel special. He is circumcised. He is an Israelite of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrew parent. He was a Paharisee. He was a persecutor of the Church and he kept the Jewish laws to the maximum degree. Normally, all these are enough to give him some kind of bragging right, and it did in the past. But after he met Jesus, he considered all those things to be nothing compared to the advantage of knowing Jesus Christ. To him, nothing is more valuable than his relationship with Jesus. After he met Jesus, all the things he considered important in his life became as nothing compared to his his relationship with Jesus.
God has placed so much value on us, that He considers us invaluable. But how much value do we place on him? One way to know how important something or someone is to you, is by considering how much time you are able to create for that thing or that person. Many of us are too busy to pray and it is easy to blame our work, but if it is really important to us, we would create time for it. But to show that it is not important, we create an excuse. A lover who is so extravagant deserves nothing less than an extravagant beloved.