Strictly for the Birds

Do you often doubt God's loving care for you personally? Take this example from the humblest of creatures and re-think that notion.
by Kathryn M. Cunningham, MAPS | Source: Catholic.net

       What do you know about birds?  Not much you say, and what does it matter anyway?  Well, we can all appreciate nature to some degree; after all, it’s all around us.  But what about those birds, do you ever take a closer look to appreciate them or do you hate them?  Are you a birder?  Do you have a feeder, do you keep a camera handy to shoot that rare avian that just happens by? Some people think that bird watchers are simply eccentrics that have nothing else to do but maybe there’s more to the “bird thing” than meets the eye.  If you’ve ever spent any time at all watching birds do their thing you might find it to be curiously calming. If you’re a bird watcher of any seriousness you quickly learn that to get a good sighting you have to learn how to be very, very patient and very, very quiet. None of these are bad things in this society of twitting, tweeting, black berrieing, and e-mailing.  A simple up close and personal phone call is passé these days!  So, do the birds have things to teach us that we are not paying close enough attention to?   If we look at the bible we can find out that Jesus used “birds” as a teaching tool on more than one occasion. Did you know that “birds”, specifically, are mentioned in the very first verse of the bible and the very last? 

       As a retiree, I confess that I have become addicted to “Birding”.  There is something about spotting a species that you’ve never seen before and even better if you can get a shot of it!  Local web sites have people who spot migrating species all through the year and it’s almost irresistible to jump in the car and race to the most recently reported new sighting to see if I can get my own picture of the critter.  So far, in just about a year, I have amassed well over a thousand “birdy shots” in my computer.  Always going for the one that is better, closer, sharper. For now, it’s been better than collecting stray cats!  But what does all this have to do with spirituality?  In the bible birds in general and sparrows in particular, are the humblest offering that a person could make to God.  If you were really poor, you could buy two sparrows for a penny at the Temple in order to give them as a sacrifice.  Richer people could afford goats, bullocks and even doves.  The poorest of the poor, however, offered sparrows. In another oft quoted teaching, Jesus reminds us that birds don’t do any work at all but are still fed daily by “our heavenly Father”.  So we are shown the ultimate image of humility and even the nobleness of poverty in the birds.  Most birds are little, shy, unnoticed and insignificant in the grand scheme of things yet they are a source of some of Jesus' most profound teachings. We are reminded that even in their “littleness” they are regarded with tenderness, care and respect by Jesus and God the Father himself, even those who are to die for the purpose of sacrifice. 

       This whole concept of the birds and their profound status as an example of God’s care for us came together for me when I was able to visit the Holy Land.  During that trip many amazing things happened including the powerful scent of roses as we entered Jerusalem and the unmistakable scent of lillies as I stood in the Holy Sepulcher. I searched for fifteen minutes to find out where it came from and couldn’t find a single plant.  It's quite a place.  But one of the most memorable moments occurred on the initial drive into the city. With my "science teacher eyes" I looked out the window and almost yelled!  Look, it's a sparrow, a sparrow, I can't believe it!  In front of my eyes on a bush was a sparrow, instantly recognizable, looking just like an American sparrow!  What's the big deal you say?  Well, biologically, in the identical species that live on different continents there is almost always some adaptation or change that makes the resident of the different continent distinct and sometimes unrecognizable from its continental cousin!  But there it was, a sparrow looking just like the ones at home!  It blew the "science part" of my mind.  But then I thought about it.  Isn't the "sparrow parable" recognized by everyone no matter where they live?  .......that God!  He thinks of everything!  Just a tiny little bird!  Don’t laugh at the “Birders”, maybe they have learned stuff that you don’t know!  Can you not buy two sparrows for a penny?  And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing.  Why every hair on your head has been counted.  So there is no need for you to be afraid.”  Mt 10:29-31 

Copyright © 2009 Kathryn M. Cunningham, All rights reserved 

Learn more about Kathryn and her view of Faith at: www.atravelersview.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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