We are of more value than a pair of swallows sold for a few coins.

Sunday, 6/25/17

Jesus spoke of God’s love for all of his creatures. He said his love embraces even a  pair of sparrows that were sold for a few coins.  Our Lord’s point was that if he loves even those least of his creatures, how much more will he love humans created in his own likeness?

But, let me tell you about an interesting pair of sparrows.

As a young priest in Korea, I sometimes needed to take the bus to meet with our bishop, and those bus rides often had me standing for up to four hours on a crowded bus. On one such trip, as I was struggling to keep my standing, I couldn’t avoid staring down at an old man who had secured a seat below me.

There were two very curious things about him: one thing was his unusual clothing, and the other thing was what he was carrying.

The old man was very properly dressed in a jacket, vest, and creased trousers; but the curious thing about his clothing was that it was all sewn together from olive drab army blankets. I couldn’t help but wonder about his relationship with the woman at home who pieced that outfit together for him.

The other curious thing was about what he held out in front of him. It was a pair of sparrows. They were  dangling from a thin strip of bamboo that he had threaded through the little nostrils in their beaks.

The Korean people all belong to one or another of a hundred clans, such as the Kim’s the Choi’s, the Han’s. And an ancient custom had the members of each clan coming together once a year to honor their ancestors. Their peculiar way of doing that had them laying out a table of delicacies for the old spirits to munch on.

That old man’s sparrows were going to add charm to the dishes laid out for one clan’s ancestors. He probably got more than a few coins for them, but only God knows that.  

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