This past week I was able to visit the Rite-13 class. They were discussing the call narrative of Moses. We talked about the many ways Moses tries to avoid his call and the excuses he gives. We talked about how God knows Moses well and has intimate conversations with him. And then an interesting question came up. We wondered whether God cares about each one of us in the same way God seems to have cared about Moses. The responses were varied, but the one that stuck with me was the skeptic who wasn’t sure that God really cared about each of us – especially when there are about 6 billion of us in the world. How could God know and care about each little thing about each one of us? And then I recalled the gospel lesson we heard today: “even the hairs of your head are all counted.” When we did the math about the numbers of hairs on all the billions of people in the world, we were all a little stunned into silence.
That is the hard part of our gospel lesson today. Can we really believe that God is so infused in our lives – and that God cares what is going on with each and every one of us? The question is one that Christians have been asking for centuries – is our God big enough to really know and love each one of us? I am sure Vincent, who we honor today, asked that same question. Vincent was a native of northwestern Spain, born in the late 200s or early 300s. He was ordained deacon by Valerius, the Bishop of Saragossa. In those years, the fervent Christian community in Spain suffered great persecution by the Roman emperors Diocletian and Maximus. The governor of Spain had Bishop Valerius and Deacon Vincent arrested. According to legend, the bishop had a speech impediment and Vincent often preached for him. When the two prisoners were challenged to renounce their faith or else be tortured and killed, Vincent turned to his bishop, willing to make a stand. Vincent’s bishop encouraged him to defend the faith. Vincent’s passionate defense angered the governor. The bishop was exiled and Vincent was tortured and finally killed. Vincent is venerated as a bold and outspoken witness to the truth of the living Christ.
I am sure there were days, especially at the end, that Vincent wondered whether God really knew the hairs on his head. To Vincent and even to us in our lesser trials, Jesus says, “Do not be afraid, you are of more value than many sparrows.” Then and now, Jesus affirms that none of us is forgotten by God. When we question God, when we feel forgotten by God, or even when we forget God, God is still there valuing the hairs of our head. That is God’s profound promise every day. Even when we flounder, or when, like Moses, we try to avoid our call or feel unworthy for the work God gives us to do, or when the pain of life feels overwhelming – God is with us, guiding us, valuing us, loving us. Thanks be to God for God’s abundant care and grace and the reality that we are of more value than many sparrows – each one of us! Amen.