Greatness in Small Acts

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

July 25, 2021 – 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time - John 6:1-15

Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.

Imagine the look on the disciples’ faces when Jesus pointed to the little boy with the five loaves of bread and two fish and then declared that this would be enough to feed the 5000 (give or take a few) who were out in the middle of nowhere – and were hungry. Yes, five loaves of bread and a couple of fish could feed a medium sized family. But a crowd like this? To use an over-used word these days, that was crazy!

We know the rest. They were all fed and departed for their homes that evening after having eaten that amazing feast of plenty. And I must add too that event also invented one of my favorite foods, leftovers!

So many important themes might be mentioned here, like the thoughtfulness of Jesus when witnessing a real need, the generosity of the little boy who was likely asked to give up the food he carried for his own family, the fact that in the end there was more than enough to satisfy the hunger of that massive crowd. So many virtues at play: empathy for the needs of others, compassion for hungry folk, generosity in sharing.

Here, however, I suggest we focus on a dimension of this miracle that is rarely mentioned. That so much good came from such limited resources. And why is this important? Because many of us fail to act because we consider our contribution so small. Like the woman who only had a single mite (less than a penny) to offer, we dismiss our efforts as insignificant, sometimes not even worth doing, because we judge them as too small to make a difference. So, we do nothing.

Think back to the boy with the bread and fish. What might the reaction be when Jesus said to his disciples that this will be enough to feed everyone? So, here’s the point. Nothing is too small, too insignificant for contributing to the building of God’s world, for enlarging God’s reign on earth, or for solving the problems of the world. God is accustomed to achieving great ends with small resources. May not the real greatness of the world be achieved more by small acts of kindness than by decisions of the high and seemingly mighty?

We need to be reminded of this because our communications media is geared to report only the mighty acts of the rich and famous, and not the simple acts of kindness done in families, among friends and strangers that happen every day. Yet from them, true miracles can happen.

©David M. Thomas, PhD

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