"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father."
Jesus' words about the care and compassion of God for even a little sparrow are words spoken by him in a larger passage assuring his disciples that they have nothing to fear in this world as long as they are following him and know that God is watching over them and caring for them. This seems to be the way the above passage is used by interpreters of this passage. But yesterday it was used in a startlingly effective different way in one of my favorite novels: "The Sparrow" by Mary Doria Russell.
This novel has been out for about fifteen years and I read it for the first time about six or eight years ago and for some reason picked it up again a few weeks ago and finished it yesterday. The novel tells the story of a Jesuit and Scientific mission to the planet Rakhat to make contact with another sentient species. The story is told from the vantage point of the trip itself, in 2019 as well as in the distant future when the sole survivor returns in 2060. Throughout there is discussion of faith and God, especially one of the priests named Emilio. This main character experiences extreme mountaintops with God and utter desolation from God.
Very near the end Matthew 10:29 is mentioned as both a comfort and a warning; even as Emilio has fallen deeply in love with God and then feels utterly separated from God his superior reminds him of Jesus' words by saying "But the sparrow still falls." That is, at our lowest point when we are shaking our fist at God and wondering why God let bad things happen Matthew 10:29 reminds us that Jesus, that God never made such a promise. The promise made is that no matter what we go through, no matter how horrible how desolate we may feel God is there still even when we fall.
It may not be what many want to hear, but it is so true.
Companions on the Inner Way: Final Thoughts
11 months ago