As usual the readings of today are full of richness and a vast source for deep personal reflection. However, I was attracted by one particular verse, “The man who can be trusted in little things can be trusted in great” LK16:10. It is a very simple statement yet one which contains so much richness. This is what makes faith and to believe so important. This is the reason why as believers we make a difference. Whenever we put our trust in the values and teachings of Jesus we become a source of great blessings to ourselves and to others. Just a couple of examples will suffice.
In 1966, an eleven year old black boy moved with his family to Washington D.C. One day he was outside his house with his two brothers and sisters. They were playing on the front lawn. Yet this little boy kept observing the way that white people looked at them as they passed by. He noticed looks of disdain and un-comfortableness and he quickly realized that they were not really welcomed. Years later writing about these first few days in Washington he writes, “I knew we were not welcome here. I knew we would not be liked here. I knew we would have no friends here. I knew we should not have moved here”.
While he was lost in these sentiments he heard somebody shouting, “Welcome”. He looked up and he saw this white lady who as she was returning from work stopped to say hello. Then this lady disappeared into her home but after a while she reemerged holding a tray laden with drinks and sweets and cakes. She crossed the road came over to where he and his brothers and sisters were playing and she shared with them what she had on the tray. That woman, the young man later wrote changed his life and changed the way he looked at things. It gave him a sense that he belonged somewhere, that he was accepted even though his skin had a different color and so he looked quite different from many others who lived in the same area. That spontaneous act of charity became for him a turning point in his life.
That young man’s name is Stephen Carter. Today he is a law professor at the prestigious University of Yale and he eventually wrote a book about what happened that day. He called it “civility”. He admired so much the gesture of that kind woman. This gesture said to him that this woman was faithful to a very simple and yet such a profound truth, namely that every creature is created in the image and likeness of God. Because she was faithful in a simple manner of welcome to this deep Christian value, she was instrumental in helping him to not only believe in himself but to achieve a responsible position so that he could influence so many others.
In his book he wrote “To this day, I can close my eyes and feel on my tongue the smooth, slick sweetness of the cream cheese and jelly sandwiches that I gobbled on that summer afternoon when I discovered how a single act of genuine and unassuming civility can change a life for ever”. Yes indeed when we are faithful in little things we become instruments of great blessing to others.
The other example that quickly comes to my mind is what we are celebrating today, Mary our Blessed Mother and Mother of Jesus. In the first place I need to make it very clear that we do not adore Mary, adoration is only to God, but we have a great respect and honor for her because she was the first disciple of Jesus, the first person who said “Yes” so we can learn a lot from her life, faith and example. I have often wondered how could she have agreed to follow what the angel Gabriel said to her. How did she consent, inspite of so many challenges and difficulties to become the mother of the long awaited Messiah. How could she trust?
As a very devout Jewish person, Mary was very well instructed by her parents Joachim and Anne in the ways of God. Looking at their history as a nation Jewish people always believed that God will protect them. Mary grew up with this mentality. God will always be faithful to his promises. So she was firm in her conviction that as God protected her people in the past, he is still protecting them today. This means that she was also under that protection and whatever happens God will be their with his strength and care to guide her in whatever she was being asked to do. Because she trusted in this reality, her life has influenced the thought and the behavior of so many and even today she is still a powerful witness always pointing all of us to her son Jesus and not to herself. Indeed God honors every single act of trust that we show in Him.
What about us today? How can we follow the same attitudes and ways of living. What does it mean to be faithful in small things so that we can become such a positive difference in our lives and in the lives of others as we are guided by the example, teachings and values of Jesus? A person like Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, of the child Jesus can help us here. She used to say “Do the ordinary things in life extraordinary well”. Be the best father that you can be. Be the best mother that you can be. Be the best wife you can be. Be the best husband that you can be. Be the best parent that you can be. Be the best young person that you can be. Be the best married person that you can be. Be the best single person that you can be. Be the best priest religious bishop you can be. We can do this by living, acting, thinking and behaving like Jesus Christ.
Of course, this has its challenges. Of course there is a cost involved in this. This is very contrary to what is believed by many in our society and consequently we are going to be criticized and also often ridiculed because of what we stand for as believers in Jesus Christ. This is why we need to gather together like this to be nourished by the body and blood of Jesus and by each others faith. This helps us to remain firm because many are looking and searching to live their lives in a meaningful way. We are called to keep offering hope and truth. We cannot remain neutral. Every time we try to be true in living in harmony with the example and behavior of Jesus, the more powerful witnesses we become to make a positive difference in the lives of those who we meet. Never underestimate the good that you do. Never underestimate the difference for the good that you can make. God uses even our smallest gesture of kindness, compassion and faithfulness to achieve results that you and I have not even dared to dream and imagine. I end with the words of Mother Teresa, “God has not asked us to be successful. He has asked us to be faithful”.