Every created object and action has a cost, a value, and a worth. These three things change drastically depending on the situation. Take for example a cup of water. When drawn from my facet it is virtually free. It is readily available and easily obtained. Supply is not lacking. It is not something I put a great deal of worth into. That same cup of water has infinite value to a man dying of thirst in the desert. Its worth is literally life itself. The man would be willing to pay any price to obtain it.
There was a time when I kept a great deal of plants in my lab at work. The outside wall of my lab was a south facing window. Even during the dreary days of winter my plants got plenty of sun. Each Friday I would water my plants before leaving for the weekend. The city water had a great amount of chlorine in it so I watered my plants using the bottled water the company provided for the employees to drink. One day I got a new coworker from French Congo in Africa. Friday came around and I watered my plants as I had done for years. My new coworker stood with his mouth agape and his eyes wide open. I asked him what was wrong.
In his village in Africa clean water was nonexistent. The local water source provided all of the water they used to drink, cook, and wash with. It was also their sewer system. Contaminated water is one of the largest causes of death in this world. Over 80% of disease in developing countries is caused by contaminated water. This man knew a value of water that I did not have. Back home his family didn’t have clean water to drink and here I am dumping purified, filtered water on plants. To him it was akin to giving dogs the remainder of a barely touched seven course meal while starving children looked on.
A great deal of time and effort has been spent over the past forty years to bolster our children’s self esteem. When I was a child, only the winning team got a trophy. For a child that trophy had infinite worth for we all knew the sacrifice it took to earn it. Modern thought is that we want every child to feel like a winner. In the formation years of sports we no longer keep score at the games and everybody gets a trophy for just showing up. Kids are not taught disappointment or how to act gracefully when they lose. Trophies have become much like the water from my faucet. Today, we are pushing the envelope with this ideology by demanding that children be allowed to choose their gender for themselves. Many believe that the ultimate expression of self worth is an ability to choose for ourselves something that we have no choice over. Boys do not become girls just because that is what they want to or feel that is what they are. Boys do not become girls through hormone treatments or reassignment surgeries. The current suicide rate for a pretreatment transgender is about 50%. The suicide rate post treatment is also almost 50%. Changing our outward appearance does not seem to change one’s self worth.
As Catholics we often confuse the words worth and worthy. Each Mass, before communion we restate the words of the centurion.
“Lord, I am not worthy that you enter under my roof but only say the word and I will be healed.”
We are not worthy of the Lord’s love for us but that does not mean that we are worthless. Each and every person is of infinite worth for we have been bought and paid for by the blood of God. Even the smallest drop of Christ’s blood is worth more than all of creation throughout time. And he did not give just the smallest drop of blood for us. He gave all of his blood for us. Our worth to him was so infinitely great that he willfully gave up everything in heaven and earth so that we may live with him.
This brings us to value. Value is the equation of worth divided by cost. Things of high worth and little cost are of great value. Things of little worth and high cost have little value. Jesus paid an infinite cost for us but he holds us with an infinite worth. So what value do we have for him? God has left the answer to that question up to us.
The more you live your life for Jesus the more value you bring to his purchase. The Saints in heaven, especially the martyrs, have an infinite value for they are the fulfillment of Christ’s infinite purchase. So it is only natural to think that the souls in hell have no value but this would be an incorrect thought. Even those in hell bring value to Jesus’ purchase. Love cannot be forced. For love to exist there has to be a choice. For love to exist we need to be able to choose something other than love. God is love and hell is the eternal separation from that love. The value of those in hell is that they are proof that love exists. For that we can be grateful.
When Jesus purchased us at the cost of his own blood he did not make a onetime purchase. He made an investment in heaven. Investments are expected to grow, to increase their value. Our time on earth is given to us for precisely that purpose. We are expected to increase our value. We increase our value the more we live our lives for Jesus. We increase our value the more we grow in holiness.
How are you growing in holiness? How are you increasing your value for Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice?