Revealing the Heart of Christ
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
The month of July is dedicated to increased devotion to the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus. Let us ask our good Lord for the grace to know and understand the power of His Precious Blood over evil! This Sunday I share with you a meditation on being faithful in little things out of love for our Lord Jesus. I encourage you to reflect over this message a few times this week:
“Faithfulness in Little Things - Jesus is always attentive to our needs. He teaches us to sanctify temporal realities: Along the shores of the Sea of Galilee people from the surrounding villages gathered to hear the Lord. While Jesus was speaking, no one had given a thought to their weariness, to the hours they had been without food, to their lack of provisions and to the impossibility of procuring any. The people had become captivated by the words of the Lord. They had forgotten their hunger as well as their travel plans. Nevertheless, Jesus had the material needs of His audience in mind. He took pity on those exhausted people who had been following Him for a number of days. So, He worked the splendid miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. (John 6:1-15)
After everyone had eaten, Jesus took advantage of the opportunity to teach a lesson to His Apostles - and to us - about the importance of little things. And when they had eaten their fill, He told His disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost’. So they gathered up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten. Jesus shows us His magnanimity in two ways: first by giving to the people as much as they wanted and secondly by making sure that no food was wasted. He educates by means of dramatic action as well as through insignificant detail.
The grandeur of the heart of Christ is revealed in both the large and small happenings of each day. The collecting of the left-overs is a way of showing us the value of little things done out of love for God - orderliness, cleanliness, finishing things completely. (The Navarre Bible, note to Mark 6:42) Christ spent the better part of thirty years immersed in ordinary, everyday life. While He occupied Himself in
a simple workshop, the Son of Man was engaged in the Redemption of humanity.
According to the Gospels, during the years of His public life Jesus remained in continual conversation with His heavenly Father. Yet Jesus was fully aware of what was going on all around Him. Having brought the daughter of Jairus back to life, He asked that she be given something to eat. Right after performing the miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus, He told the bewildered spectators: Unbind him, and let him go. (John 11:44) Jesus sensed when it was time for His disciples to get some rest. (Mark 6:31) He teaches us to treat human situations according to their proper importance. We have to sanctify our daily concerns. We cannot live in the clouds. We should be actively involved in the lives of others. In the Second Reading of the Holy Mass, St. Paul reminds us of how we should behave towards the people around us: with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love. (Eph. 4:16) The Lord is calling us to live those virtues which make life pleasant for others. This is how we will demonstrate our love of God.
Drawing close to the Lord through the faithful fulfillment of our duties. The value of little things: Gather up the fragments left over… This would seem to be a detail of little importance in comparison with the spectacular miracle, but it is the Lord Who makes the request. Our entire life is made up of many things which are very simple and mundane. We develop virtues by our habitual, dayto- day struggle. It is in this struggle that we forge our sanctity.
‘Love means deeds and not sweet words.’ Deeds, deeds! And a resolution: I will continue to tell you often, Lord, that I love You. How often have I repeated this today! But, with Your grace, it will be my conduct above all that shows it. It will be the little things of each day which, with silent eloquence, will cry out before You, showing You my Love. (J. Escriva, The Forge, 498)
The Lord values order, punctuality, care for the books we use and the instruments we work with, our friendliness towards colleagues, our dedication to spouse, children, friends. We have to fight against any sense of routine in our relationships or in our work. We have to want to give new meaning to each day and each hour, even though we may have been doing the same thing for years on end. Life becomes a bore when we give in to any sense of routine. We can find a broad field for living mortification in our daily work - not putting people down, working with intensity, carrying out our tasks with a spirit of service. It is possible that we might some day be challenged to save someone else’s life at the risk of our own. It’s possible, but not very likely. Yet we do find opportunities virtually every single day to give of ourselves for others. This may involve having a smile for someone we don’t really like, giving a word of encouragement to a member of the family who seems tired or out of sorts, a willingness to withhold our opinion for the sake of avoiding an argument, a conscious effort to listen with interest to someone we don’t find very interesting. It can happen that an action of little consequence (a friendly greeting, a tiny favor, a thank-you note) can produce in others a good result out of all proportion to what we might have expected. These simple courtesies help others to feel wanted and appreciated. Social life thus becomes a reflection of God Himself.
This is in marked contrast to those situations where people treat one another as mere objects, with careless disregard for the most fundamental aspects of human dignity. Little things are essential to our struggle to live all of the virtues. Faith can be expressed with a momentary act of love when we pass by a Tabernacle in the middle of a city. Fortitude can be lived whenever we interrupt an impure conversation, whenever we take a stand for our beliefs, for Jesus Christ and His Church. Christ awaits us in everyday life. This is the ‘real world’ to which we belong, which we need to sanctify by our diligence and ‘sporting spirit’. It is here that we will learn to appreciate what He appreciates - those treasures which last on into Eternal Life. Our hope is that we will be fortunate enough to win the Master’s praise: W ell done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much. (Matt. 25:21)
Whatever God may ask of us is within our reach. We need to be faithful even in those areas that seem of little importance: Our life is made up of many small actions. If we channel all these actions in the direction of God’s Will, they will carry us very far. Many small steps will take us to the end of our journey. Faithfulness in little things will steel us in the face of any great temptation. (cf. Luke 16:10) As we read in the Book of Sirach: A workman who is a drunkard will not become rich; he who despises small things will fail little by little. (Sir. 19:1)
God is asking something of us at every moment, and that something is always well within our reach. As a consequence of our initial correspondence to grace, there follow more graces for the second challenge. If we are faithful, one grace succeeds upon another. By focusing on little things, we enjoy the added advantage of diminishing our vanity. Who will honor us for giving up our seat on the bus? What testimonial will we receive for having kept order in our work area? Who will build a statue to the mother who smiles, to the professor who carefully prepares each lecture, to the student who really studies for an exam, to the doctor who treats a patient with respect for his dignity?
When we offer up our work, we transform little things into big things, human details into supernatural events. Every morning we should make our morning offering with greater and greater devotion.
We will see the human and Divine come together in a unity of life which will allow us to win Heaven little by little. To be faithful in little things we need to have a great love for the Lord. We have to foster an ardent desire to be united with Him, to find Him in the normal circumstances of daily life. This constant care for little things will nourish our love for God.
Our Blessed Mother will teach us to appreciate what seems to be of little importance, to care for details. This should be our approach in family life, in social relations, in the fulfillment of our duties and in our dealings with God.” (From: In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez)
Through the intercession of Mary, the Immaculate Conception, St. Joseph, St. Michael and St. Paul, may God grant us the grace of attentiveness to the little things in life!
In Christ through Mary,