Neymar da Silva Santos Junior is a 25 year old football player who has just been sold for an eye-watering fee of £200 million to a French club, Paris Saint-Germain. 4 years ago as a 21 year old this same young man, already regarded to be a rising star, was signed from his Brazilian Club, Santos, to Spanish club, Barcelona, for £48 million. He is a hugely talented: a great athlete, a skilful player, a match-winner, a prolific goal scorer and amongst the most outstanding sportsmen of his generation. He is now the most expensive signing of any footballer in history and, I suppose one of the richest footballers ever.
You cannot help wondering how people come up with these figures and who decides at the end of the day that a football player is worth such a large sum of money.
We live in a funny world where a young man of 25 years of age who plays 90 minutes football is valued higher than a nurse who works long hours to care for the sick and dying, valued higher too than a fire-fighter who goes into burning buildings to save lives, valued higher than someone who has worked long hours and for decades and ends up with a tiny pension. It makes you wonder how that can be. Entertainers and sportsmen and musicians and actors seem more highly prized than people who put their life on the line for others.
I suppose it has ever been thus that people wonder where the world’s values are. Why they value some things and don’t value other things, that seem infinitely more important.
Just this week all of us heard of those people in the boat, escaping over the seas. You couldn’t think of a more pitiful sight, people fleeing for their lives, taken on a ‘dodgy’ journey by people smugglers. Yet we heard on that occasion of something even more sinister, many of them on that trip (and maybe as it turns out, on other occasions) were thrown over board to their certain death by the people smugglers. How could you value life so little to throw these men, women and children into the wild sea? How is it possible that their lives would means so little that they would be thrown away in such a terrible and notorious act of cruelty? What would make those who did this think that their lives were of so little value?
We often find in our world that material things, possessions, worldly wealth are often valued above human lives .
As if to mirror those people in the boat, our Lord’s disciples are also in the boat in today’s Gospel reading, in the eye of the storm and in fear of their lives, that they too will be drowned. Their lives in this moment mirrors the fear, dread and anguish of those people who lost their lives. The disciples too are afraid that this fierce water will swallow them up. However, the story in the Gospel ends differently, it tells us that Jesus leads all in the boat and even Peter who tries a risky manoeuvre to safety. No harm comes to them, their lives are safe.
Would that every story of human misery would end so well.
Its not hard to think that there is a deeper meaning in the story, that the image reflects the turmoil of human life. All human beings are in such a boat, tossed high and low by the waves and in fear of the lives, in danger of being drowned or losing their life in the sea of troubles that they face. The story would seem to say that it is the Lord desire that the storms pass, that the waves are calm and that all in the boat will be led to safe lodgings.
God does not want to throw us overboard, he doesn’t want to discard us like something that has little or no value, as those people smugglers did to their poor victims. He doesn’t judge our value as the world does by placing a price on our head like some modern day footballer or the like; as if to say that one person is of more value than another. We are of infinite value to him, we are priceless in his sight.
In the world too there are things that have no price, that are beyond a monetary value. A newly born baby. Love between people. Care shown for others. The gift of faith. These things have no price tag set on them. We know that no price could be attached to them.
God does not fix a price on what he values us he just tells us that he loves us very much and to show us how much he loves us, what value we are to him, how much he loves us, he even allows his son to die on the cross for us. He will not cast us over the side of the boat or allow us to go down, he stretches out his hand to save us, to lift us up from those deep waters because each of us are of infinite value to him, we are the work of his hands, we are the treasure of his heart.