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Molly CahillJuly 03, 2024
Photo from Unsplash.

A Reflection for Saturday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Find today’s readings here.

Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?
Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.
Even all the hairs of your head are counted. (Mt 10:29-30)

Being “known” is a great paradox. We want to be known by others and we don’t want to be lonely. But at the same time, opening up is scary and vulnerable. In certain circumstances, privacy can be precious.

I’m not sure if there’s anyone on earth who knows everything about me. When I think of the small circle of people who might come close, I can count them on half a hand—and it took some time for us to develop the kind of trust that made that possible. Sharing openly with the people in my life is not one of my strengths, and if you’re anything like me, a habit of having your guard up is a tough one to shake.

When Christians talk about being known deeply by God, we usually talk about it as a positive thing—and it is. But I think it’s also worth acknowledging that for people who value their privacy, the kind of language in today’s Gospel can be, at least initially, intimidating. Jesus speaks to his Apostles about the omniscient nature of God, communicating to them that God misses nothing—even the smallest details that human beings tend to miss. When it comes to just how clearly God sees each person, Jesus says: “Even all the hairs of your head are counted.”

That level of attention is so close that it almost makes me uncomfortable. Every hair on my head? A certain reading of this sentiment can make God’s gaze seem like surveillance. And on top of that, it suggests that God sees everything I do, every move I make—even the ones I’m not so proud of, the ones I’d much prefer that nobody sees.

It’s peak vulnerability. We are seen and known at every moment by someone whose attention skills are far beyond the human beings who lay eyes on us in our lives. It’s a kind of total openness we have no choice but to surrender to and learn to get comfortable with.

But there’s one key difference that might offer some comfort. If you’re afraid of opening yourself up to the people around you, that might be because those experiences have left you misunderstood or disappointed in the past. You might have become less trusting thanks to experiences that taught you to be more precious about deeming others as trustworthy.

In God’s gaze, though, we’re free from the kind of loneliness and judgment we have all felt at the hands of imperfect people. Each hair on our head is cherished and accepted instead of sized up or compared. In our relationships with God, we can practice the kind of vulnerability that is so difficult in human relationships, knowing we won’t be let down.

Being known by God is different than being known by our neighbors, but our closest relationships give us the best glimpse we have into what God’s vantage point is like when he looks at us. For each person who has ever been a great listener when you’ve shared your story with them, for each one who has remembered something small you told them offhandedly about yourself, for each one who has sensed your pain when you needed a friend—that’s a piece of just how clearly God sees you.

More: Scripture

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