More Than We Believe

Passages: Is. 3:16-4:1; 1 Corinth. 1:25-30; Matt. 18:10-14
Ընթերցուածքներ՝ Եսայ. Գ 16-Դ 1; Ա Կորնց. Ա 25-30; Մատ. ԺԸ 10-14

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen!

Top – Matilda, Bottom – (L) Hobbits (R) Katniss Everdeen

How many of us have read the children’s book by Roald Dahl Matilda? Or perhaps the classic JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings? How many of us have watched the movie series, The Hunger Games and know the protagonist Katniss Everdeen? For those of us who have read or seen the movies, what do Matilda, the Hobbit’s from The Lord of the Rings or Katniss Everdeen have in common? For a little bit context especially for those who may never have read or seen these characters, let me gives brief description. Matilda is a little girl who is repeatedly patronized and under-estimated. She is ridiculed for her love of books and learning by her family and is harassed as a useless, stupid, child by her ogerly principal Ms. Trunchbull. The hobbits of The Lord of the Rings are mild mannered, self-sufficient, quiet folk. They are 2-3 feet tall, hairy but no beards; they wear bright colors and love to laugh and sing. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games is a hardworking, determined girl who is up against enormous odds as she takes on death-defying challenges. She comes from a poor family and community and is not highly educated. So, what do these three protagonists have in common? They’re not what we would necessarily define as heroes from the outside. These 3 have very little to no physical strengths; They are innocent, kind, hard workers but from the outset, they don’t have the qualities most of us would look for when choosing a hero. In other words, in a schoolyard game of dodge-ball or any physical activity, they would most likely be picked last. And yet, all three of them go on to not only survive but thrive; they grow and mature throughout their stories as they also set examples for us to learn from.

Underrated heroes and heroines from literature and movies like them connect to us the most because we relate to them. They’re characters like us and they inspire us and make us feel it’s possible to do anything even when the rest of the world says it’s not impossible. In fact, from a very young age we learn the contrary, that it is always survival of the fittest; you must be the strongest, smartest, prettiest, with titles, experience and money. To be successful in this life and to have an impact we need to be better than everyone else. And this reality impacts all of us in very negative ways because anytime we fail, mess up or don’t meet a goal we’ve set out for ourselves, we are left hopeless, diminished, and fragile. This is true about our school life, careers, relationships, health, and even our faith. So many of us believe that we’re too sinful, we’ve messed up too many times or that our Christian faith is just too difficult to learn and live by. We think that because we’ve come from brokenness, or because we have demons in our past, that there is no point is trying to learn or change. No one is going to love us, want us, pray for us; we’re not worthy of forgiveness or we’re to hurt to forgive others. In other words, my dears, too many of us believe that in the game of life, love and faith we’d be picked last and we’re no example for others to follow.

Yet, look at the words of St. Paul, “For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” For consider your call – meaning, think about the your lives; think about how the world defines success, smarts, power, importance. And once you’ve thought about it, throw it out the window because the worldly standards mean nothing to God. God has chosen me and you, each one of us regardless of all those faults and weaknesses – God’s love has chosen what is low and despised, what is rejected; in other words God has chosen first those who would have been last for a purpose that is revealed to us over time. But for us to see this revelation we need to first recognize our worth and for this Christ gives us two examples for us to ponder. First, he says, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones.” Christ Jesus calls us to recognize children, the most helpless, and inexperienced. For, He says that, their angels are always with God the Father. Next, Christ gives an example of lost sheep. I’m not sure how many of us have had an opportunity to herd sheep, but sheep are dumb animals. They are naïve as they are pure. They have no natural defense and yet, Christ gives such great value to them. Such value, that if one is lost, the shepherd will leave the other 99 and look for the lost one.

My dears, we are the children and sheep of God. We each face challenges in life, we each strive to grow and learn, to love and hope even in the face of adversity. And it is our angels that are with God the Father and it is we who are so valuable that God, our true shepherd looks for us when we are lost and defenseless. Because we are each a hero and heroine, and we are more valuable than any title, experience, wealth, or success that this world would define or give us. Just like the true value of the protagonist in the stories over time was exposed to be who they are, so too is our value exposed over time as to who we are. We are a beloved, child of God created in His divine image and likeness, and it is for us that God the Son Christ Jesus defeated death and this world. What we need to do is recognize this as a truth and reality and not merely as a fictional story. Those works of literature like Matilda, The Lord of the Rings and The Hunger Games are fantasy, but they all hold a teaching that we connect with. The Word of God, the Holy Scripture is reality and yet, we believe it less than we do fiction, why? Because we’ve believed the lies of the world that we are worthless unless we have money, beauty, and smarts. What’s more we’ve believed the lies and cheats of the devil who says because we doubt and sin, God does not love us and we have no hope.

No, my dears. The teachings that those fictional stories teach us is that we have great value in us, and the truth as revealed through the Word of God is that this value is equally given to all of us as children of God. A value, a richness that nothing and no one can take away if we hope, live and trust in our Heavenly Father. A love that is beyond our limits, understanding, doubts and feast that comes from God alone. Therefore, pray, reflect, value who you are as a child of God. And if along the way, you feel lost, pray that our shepherd will guide us and protect us. See the greatness in you and remember to value it by also valuing that same greatness and value in other’s around you. Because if yesterday we felt broken and today we are safe, perhaps someone else today we meet feels broken and by us recognizing their value tomorrow they will feel loved and safe. Meaning my dears, that we each will become a hero for someone else. Not a fictional hero in story books or movies but a true hero and champion of faith in Christ Jesus. Who is our protector and God, to whom is befitting glory, dominion and honor, now and unto ages of ages Amen!

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