Do you have any idea how precious you are?


I was sitting in my pew waiting for daily Mass to begin when they came in: an elderly husband and wife, shuffling slowly and carefully along the carpet to the front row. The man was stooped, pushing a walker, and his wife was careful and attentive, tending to his every need. He made his way into the pew, while she folded up his walker and leaned it against the pew just in front of him. I couldn’t help but watch them throughout Mass, especially when the man remained standing as everyone else sat after the proclamation of the Gospel⁠⁠—his wife tugged on his shirt to ease him back down.


I think that’s when it came to my mind: Do you have any idea how precious you are? Precious. And I didn’t mean in a cutesy, condescending way⁠—Oh, what a sweet little old man⁠—no. I meant it in a heavenly way. This man, I thought to myself, would soon be on his deathbed, approaching a face-to-face meeting with Jesus. This man with an eternal soul. A long, full life, a rich and storied past, a faithful marriage, maybe a gaggle of kids and grandkids. Maybe memory loss, maybe troubling visits to the doctor, maybe a terminal diagnosis. A beating, beating, beating heart. The last beat is soon to come.


My dad died, and suddenly I see everything, everything, differently. That day at Mass, I sat in my pew fighting tears, exhausted from grief and another sleepless night. Never before have I suffered so profoundly. Yet I can’t help but give thanks for the torrent of graces God is continually pouring upon me. This simple moment at Mass is perfect proof: God is enlarging my heart. I am heartbroken like never before, and I am full of love like never before. To be moved to tears at the sight of a perfect stranger, whose face I barely saw, whose name I’ll never know? Only God can move my heart in such a way.


And it’s not just that God is giving me more and more love for humanity. He’s opening me up more and more to receive His love for me. For days that line echoed in my mind⁠—Do you have any idea how precious you are?⁠—until there I was, back at church beginning a holy hour, and it struck me: God is speaking these words to me, too. I knelt there in awe-struck gratitude, my eyes moving from the tabernacle to the crucifix, and I let His love seep in.


Do you have any idea how precious you are to Me, Emma? Any idea how you delight Me? How proud I am to be your Father, to watch you light up, to see your exuberance and hopefulness and joy? To trace your heart’s movements throughout the day, thinking of your dad everywhere you go, playing with the neighbor kids, watering plants, making new friends, reconnecting with old ones, coming to Me first thing every day? You are precious. I love you. You are Mine.


I am precious to Him, I know it. And so are you. No less precious than I, no less precious than that blessed old man with the trembling hands, no less precious than my beloved father who met his end far too soon but whose last weeks of life were nothing short of miraculous. Let Him speak those words to you.


Do we have any idea how precious we are? If we did, I do believe, our very hearts would burst.

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