Small Things, Great Love

“An argument arose among the disciples
about which of them was the greatest.
Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child
and placed it by his side and said to them,
“Whoever receives this child in my name receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
For the one who is least among all of you
is the one who is the greatest.”  (Luke 9:46-48)

Confession: I’m one of those people who is prone to getting easily distracted by cute little kids during Mass. Who doesn’t love adorable children, right? But there was one particular Sunday that a little boy displayed profound wisdom. I was kneeling in my pew after receiving the Eucharist. A worn-out looking mom moved forward in the aisle beside me to receive, holding her wriggly son who looked about two years old. As the priest said, “The Body of Christ,” the boy pointed to the Eucharist and said, “Jesus!”

I immediately smiled, and tears sprang to my eyes. “Jesus!” The little boy said it so matter-of-factly, the same as if he were to point to a picture of an apple and say, “apple!”

How quick are we to recognize Jesus around us? Can we, like the little boy, recognize the graces and goodness in our lives and immediately say, “Jesus,” knowing that He is the source? God is always up to more than we can see, and we are constantly surrounded by His goodness, mercy, protection, and attentive care. Are we also living in such a way that others could see the joy and love of the Lord in us and say, “Jesus”?

Today is the feast of one of my favorite saints and one of the doctors of our Church, St. Therese of Lisieux. St. Therese truly exemplified the childlike faith Jesus refers to in today’s Gospel. She freely gave Him everything, saying she “didn’t want to be a saint by halves.” She wrote of being a “little flower,” humble before the Lord:

“[Jesus] opened the book of nature before me, and I saw that every flower He has created has a beauty of its own; that the splendor of the rose and the lily’s whiteness do not deprive the violet of its scent, nor make less ravishing the daisy’s charm…So it is in the world of souls, the living garden of the Lord….He has also created little ones, who must be content to be daisies or violets nestling at His feet to delight His eyes when He should choose to look at them. The happier they are to be as He wills, the more perfect they are…What delights Him is the simplicity of these flowers of the field, and by stooping so low to them, He shows how infinitely great He is” (Story of a Soul, I).

Everything St. Therese did was intentionally rooted in love, even the small things. Her childlike faith was the fruit of selflessness and complete surrender to God. God can work wonders through what we may see as simple or even insignificant acts of love. May we be childlike before Him—quick to run to His arms with confidence, quick to love, quick to acknowledge His grace. Today let us be attune to all the ways Jesus is present in our day, giving Him praise by declaring His name over all the graces He gives us. And let’s do the same for others—loving greatly in small things.

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