When Milt sat downtrodden at our kitchen table, our two-year son spotted this elderly widower and made a beeline to him. Led by the Spirit, this toddler gently placed his small-dimpled hand on the worn hands of our grief-stricken neighbor, and patted while saying, “It’s okay. It’s okay.” This smallest of gestures brightened a hurting heart far more than a million bucks.
Small. Bit. Little. Handful. Couple. Few.
Bite-size adjectives pepper this Sunday’s scripture generating a big impact. Undoubtedly, the small cake and two small coins were valued over much larger gifts—as they were given in faith and love. As Mother Teresa famously said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Small things matter, and when given out of love, become grace for the world: a gentle pat becomes healing; a note of encouragement serves as strength; a plate of cookies offers comfort; a hot meal provides dignity. God takes what little we give to expand the kingdom of God.
A friend recently brought my ninety-two year old father a rum cake. Small. Simple. Delicious. Later, my sister-in-law commented, “I think Barb spends her day thinking of little things to do for others.” I think that’s right. Barb, a modern day Therese of Lisieux—saint of the “little way”—generously pours out her heart in the smallest ways: a ten-dollar bill anonymously placed on a beat up dashboard; a care package silently tucked into a homeless man’s jacket; a plate of cookies unassumingly delivered to a suffering friend. Like St. Therese, Barb realizes, “The Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, or even at their difficulty, as at the love with which we do them.” When we give to others in love, we give to Jesus, who multiples our humble offerings.
Children may doubt their ability to give while possessing only small fingers, bits of talent, little hands, handful of belongings, couple of things, and a few coins. Yet we name grace through our witness and by helping our children realize that when they give from their smallness—with huge hearts and much love—they are bringing God’s presence into the world. Small fingers painting colors our lives; a bit of singing lightens our day; little hands hug our hurts; handful of violets elicit our joy; couple of kisses warm our hearts; few coins buy us sweetness. Small children, especially tiny infants, heal hearts and bring joy through their sheer existence.
Some are called to big things, but all are called to small things. Either way, as St. Therese of Lisieux professed, “It is love alone that gives worth to all things.” Through Christ’s infinite love, a small cup of water pours out new life, a bit of bread redeems the world, a drop of blood seals the new and eternal covenant, and a little oil strengthens us for the journey. Small things. Great love. Amazing grace. Now, that’s good news!
The blog on this page presents reflections on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding leaders of the domestic church in their vital task as “first heralds” or “first preachers” of the Good News in the home.