To be Known in Loving Detail
by Rev. Joseph M. Rampino
Reprinted be permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"
To Sunday Gospel Reflections Index
Matthew wrote to show that Christ
Messiah and fulfilled the Jewish prophecies.
Therefore do not be afraid of them. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. 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. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.
The Gospel of Matthew says, “Do not be afraid … all the hairs of your head are counted” (10:30). The Lord Jesus reminds us in the Gospel of this week that even the smallest matters of our life are of importance to God. We do not have a God who stands at a distance, aloof from us and from how our lives unfold, but a God who is invested down to the last hair, who cares about each detail of our existence.
Is this not the very definition of loving concern? When any person in our lives willingly notices the details of who we are, that for which we hope, that which we fear, what makes us smile or laugh, how we joke, react, sit, stand, or walk, we take it as a sign of love, and in the right circumstances, it can call forth love from our own hearts. We frequently long to be seen and understood in just such a way. Do we believe that God does in fact love us in detail? Certainly he does, and so we can be sure as well that the care he takes for our soul is itself exquisitely detailed, indeed perfectly suited to our needs along the path to heaven.
On the other hand, we may well ask ourselves, “Do I care enough about God to notice the details of his person?” So often when we learn our faith or when we read the Scriptures, we are attuned to only that which is moral and practical. We look to the lesson that can be applied in our daily lives, and if we have a hard time finding something that is of immediate use to us, we leave feeling that we have accomplished little. Yet, if we have interest in a person only insofar as they are useful to us, can we really be said to love them? Does friendship consist only of what is immediately practical? Certainly not.
Part of loving God is taking care to notice who he is. In heaven, we will no longer be making moral decisions, or carrying out our daily lives. We will have no business to undertake, schedules to manage, or matters to organize. There, we will simply be with God, seeing him as he is, and enjoying his company along with the saints. That is, incidentally, why the study of theology is the most noble study a person could ever undertake. It is good not primarily because it is immediately applicable, but precisely because it is preparation for the life we will all live in heaven, the life of simply loving God.
While not all will have occasion or need to read through the headiest tomes of sacred theology, each Christian must have the heart of a theologian. Each Christian must develop the holy desire to see God as he is, to know him in detail, as God knows each Christian in loving detail. A good way to begin might be to change how we read the Gospels. Rather than looking through the Scriptures for morals and lessons, we can read a passage asking, “what does this show me about Jesus?” Rather than demanding that the Lord teach us something useful, we can read looking simply to notice how the Lord acts and speaks. How does he react to people? What choices does he make? What seems to be on his mind?
Even a simple exercise like this can reveal to us the face of our God with greater vibrancy than we have ever known before, and help us to grow in that love of him which comes to full completion in the joy of heaven.