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You Aren’t Your Hair

First Reading: Ephesians 1:11-14

Brothers and sisters:
In Christ we were also chosen,
destined in accord with the purpose of the One
who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will,
so that we might exist for the praise of his glory,
we who first hoped in Christ.
In him you also, who have heard the word of truth,
the Gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him,
were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,
which is the first installment of our inheritance
toward redemption as God’s possession, to the praise of his glory.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 12-13

R. (12) Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Exult, you just, in the LORD;
praise from the upright is fitting.
Give thanks to the LORD on the harp;
with the ten stringed lyre chant his praises.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
For upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.
From heaven the LORD looks down;
he sees all mankind.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

Gospel: Luke 12:1-7

At that time:
So many people were crowding together
that they were trampling one another underfoot.
Jesus began to speak, first to his disciples,
“Beware of the leaven–that is, the hypocrisy–of the Pharisees.

“There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed,
nor secret that will not be known.
Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness
will be heard in the light,
and what you have whispered behind closed doors
will be proclaimed on the housetops.
I tell you, my friends,
do not be afraid of those who kill the body
but after that can do no more.
I shall show you whom to fear.
Be afraid of the one who after killing
has the power to cast into Gehenna;
yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one.
Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins?
Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God.
Even the hairs of your head have all been counted.
Do not be afraid.
You are worth more than many sparrows.”

NAB

oct-14

I hated my hair. Plain brown, not beautiful blond like my friends or stunning auburn like my sister. Messy wavy, not shiny straight or bouncy curls. Boring. Bland. (Even ugly, I hissed.)

I did everything I could to change it. Permed it. Curled it. Straightened it. Dyed it. Nothing helped.

Then one Saturday I sat in the salon chair while the cheerful stylist chirped about “how highlights could brighten it up!” I realized the truth. My hair matched my face, my skin, and my eyes. It matched me. It never looked better when I tried to change it, because those changes weren’t me.

I smiled and thanked her and told her I was fine without the highlights. And I was.

Because here is the truth in today’s Gospel: we are beloved by God simply because we are. Even the hairs of our head have all been counted. Not one of us has escaped the notice of God. We do not need to do or become anything else to earn God’s love.

But Jesus knows humans are consumed by hypocrisy, lies, and fear. He tells the disciples to beware these evils. And then He tells them “do not be afraid”—God’s comforting refrain through all of Scripture.

Do not be afraid. You are worth more.

Contrary to our culture’s seductive suggestions, you and your body are not projects to be perfected. You are not flaws to be fixed. The second that your life began, deep within darkness, you were—and you were good. Even through your sins, God sees the beauty and goodness of you.

As women, we need to remember this. We are made to be cherished, not to be compared. We are made to be celebrated, not to compete. Because we have been created by a loving God who wanted our life to exist and who calls us beloved so we can love in turn.

We exist for the praise of God’s glory. We are blessed because we were chosen to be God’s own. We need not be afraid, because we are known and loved by God.

Here is the secret I wish I could tell my teenage self. Life is not about our hair—or our bodies, jobs, homes, spouses, children, possessions, or accomplishments. Life is about our existence itself, beloved by God and beautiful to our Creator.

Look at yourself in the mirror today. Remind yourself that every hair on your head has been counted by your Creator. Speak aloud one beautiful thing you see. Speak a word of love to God who gave you life.

Laura Kelly Fanucci is a mother, writer, and theological researcher. She and her husband are raising three little boys in the suburban wilds of Minnesota. You can find out more about her here.

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