Jesus asked, “Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?”
Forgive me for reminiscing, but his question brings back a memory of mine, and I can’t resist speaking of it.
Fifty-five years ago when I was a missionary in South Korea I got around the country on crowded busses. One of those long days, holding to the overhead strap, I was so wedged into the standing crowd gaze was fixed on a man who had found a seat. I was struck by his neat attire: his trousers, jacket and vest had all been cleverly tailored from olive-drab army blankets.
I was struck as well by what he was holding inches out from his vest. With a straw strung through the nostrils in their beaks, he had four little dead birds he was taking to market.
I don’t know if they are still that way, but back then anyway Korean people had a day once a year when they honored their dead from generations back beyond mind. Gathering from all over that day, they would lay out a meal of exotic foods. Even though their ancestors could no longer eat, people gave them a banquet to mentally feed on, perhaps drawing some essence from the fine foods.
I guessed that the neat little man on the bus supported himself by catching rare game that might delight the departed at those strange banquets..
For three centuries our Church forbade Catholics taking part in those meals for the dead, but it has come around to admiring people who remember their dead. Our Lord’s “two sparrows” along with that little man’s skewered birds reminds me that I must put my parents and siblings into my prayers.