This homily is based on Matthew 10:26-33 for the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
There used to be a time when the question you’re asked is: “How is your self-worth?” Now, I suspect, the more relevant question is: “How is your selfie-worth?”
The symptoms are everywhere. For those of us who have digital lives, there is a real danger to turn self-worth into selfie-worth, a tendency to define ourselves not so much in terms of who we are, but almost exclusively in terms of how other people see us.
One of the best things about digital technology and social media is that we get to connect so easily to people, wherever they are. But as always, a benefit like this also brings with it risks and dangers if we are not careful. One of the side effects that a digital lifestyle may produce is a need for an audience, where we almost always feel we need to share every single experience, thought, and feeling with the universe. It’s almost as if these can become real if and only if we share them.
Worse, still not satisfied with that, sometimes we don’t feel the sharing is successful if only a few of our Facebook friends “like” it or Instagram followers “favorite” it. There is an episode from the TV series “Black Mirror” called “Nose Dive,” where sometime in the very near future, people basically went around rating one another after every interaction, and each person was judged based on the average rating! That’s quite extreme you might say, but you must admit, also quite plausible.
In today’s Gospel, our Lord says, “You are worth more than many sparrows.” We can translate that as him saying: “You are worth more than many likes.” Today, our Lord invites us to see ourselves as God sees us–valued for who we are not just on account of what we do, but almost in spite of what we do. For God sees our value despite our flaws and weaknesses. He requires neither witty captions nor filtered selfies to like us.
Today, Father’s Day, we honor all fathers in the world. But lest we forget, each of us is our own father. As Wordsworth famously wrote: “The child is the father of the man.” In short, we are who we choose define ourselves into. Are we going to base that self-definition on the number of likes we get for our social media posts? Or are we going to base it on how God–our true and first Father–sees us?
We are each of us already–in spite of what others say or what we ourselves think–God’s personal favorite.