12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
3-6 year olds
(Adults, the Gospel this Sunday mentions "those who kill the body..." You may not want to proclaim that to the children. While it is important to deliver the Word of God intact, it is also important to know the needs and capacities of the listeners. I would not have gone out of my way to pick this Gospel for young children. You might just want to read verses 29-31 that highlight the care of God.)
We know that Jesus has many disciples. Disciples are people who follow Jesus and learn from him. Jesus teaches them, but he also sends them out with a buddy so that they can tell other people about the Kingdom of God.
In the reading for this Sunday, Jesus is preparing his disciples to go out. Some of them are worried about going away from Jesus. Two times he tells them to have no fear, but they are still worried, so he says something kind of funny:
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?
I like watching sparrows. They are a kind of bird that comes into my backyard. To be honest, I like other birds better. Sparrows are not as brightly coloured as cardinals and blue jays. Sparrows do not mark the beginning of spring like the robins; they are here all year long. They do not hunt small animals like the great red-tailed hawk. They are not even the smallest bird; we get hummingbirds that are bright green and teeny-tiny. Sparrows are pretty common; there are so many of them. I like to watch sparrows, but they are not very exciting.
Jesus says that people sell sparrows for a penny. In Canada we don't even use pennies anymore because pennies cannot buy anything. You can't even buy a piece of gum with a penny! You would need more money. Jesus says people can buy not one but two sparrows with a penny. Two sparrows must be worth even less than a little piece of gum!
But Jesus says,
not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.
God causes the sparrows to live and to fly. Sparrows do not fall to the ground because God knows all about them. They find food to eat even in the middle of winter, and they build nests in trees and bushes to keep warm. Who provides that food? Who grows trees for them to live in? God takes such good care of them even though sparrows are worth less than a penny. Sparrows never have to worry. God pays close attention to these everyday little birds.
Then Jesus says,
even the hairs of your head are all counted.
I remember once asking my dad if everyone had the same number of hairs on their heads. He replied right away, "Yup! Everyone has 10,465 hairs on their heads." I found out later that he was teasing me (and I should have known. My dad doesn't have very much hair). Some people have lots of hair. Others have not so much. No one knows exactly how many hairs each person has. There are so many. Who can count them? But Jesus says God has counted each one of the hairs on our heads. God must pay an awful lot of attention to us, too.
In fact, Jesus says that God pays much more attention to us than those sparrows.
So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Now the disciples know that they do not need to be afraid. God pays attention to sparrows, and God is paying even more attention to us. We are so sO SO much more special to God than sparrows. Who can count how much more special we are?