Cooperating With God The Little Way

18th Sunday In Ordinary Time

Deacon Robin Mendonca

Preached: August 2, 2020

Introduction

A seminarian friend of mine was telling me about some advice his pastor gave him as he journeyed to the priesthood, the pastor said, “Don’t wait until you have enough food to feed people. Don’t wait for enough money, skills or talents to care for and share with them. Just empty your pocket first and do the best you can out of your love; and, God will provide the rest.” He was sharing his own experience of this gospel of seeing Jesus prepare a meal for over 5000 people from practically nothing. It’s obvious that what is taking place is a logical impossibility. There is no way that this can be anything other than a miracle and in fact it’s probably Jesus’ most famous miracle.

Jesus responds to the little the Apostles had 

But to get inside of what’s happening let’s take a deeper look at the miracle and the characters in the gospel narrative and how they each respond in their own capacity to a need they see before them. We have Jesus and we have the disciples. (Some accounts of this story also say that we have a boy who provides the 5 loaves of bread and two fishes.) But, regardless, the gospel does not tell us that Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish, put them in big piles and had the disciples distribute them. But rather what we see are the disciples giving the very little and insignificant contribution they had and Jesus multiplying it. This is when the miracle happens: when the disciples share the “little” they had.

St. Therese of Lisieux’s “Little Way” 

This reminds me of the “little way” of St. Therese of Lisieux. The “little way” seeks to answer the question: What is the demand of love in the present moment? Or How can I love more right now? See I think, it’s easy to get caught up in trying to determine how to make an impact on the world or in our lives. But we forget that big impacts come about from many little daily choices.

In the little way of St. Therese, we can find that often the opportunity for us to love more comes about in the little things of regular life. A small yes here and there or an offer to help, stopping to have a small conversation when we could easily without anyone knowing the difference, returning a phone call, sharing a smile or a welcome or even taking a minute to pray for someone and ask them how they’re doing and there’s countless more. And yes, these seem little, but the littleness of our actions is precisely how we build God’s kingdom. It doesn’t matter if we are young or not so young, women or men, of different backgrounds and nationalities,  we must do our best and trust that the Lord will do the rest.

The little way is how we can love God and each other more in the present. And God takes our little and shapes, molds and performs miracles in the bigger picture and the grand scheme of things. [1]

Jesus didn’t have to use the bread and fishes

See, Jesus did not have to use the bread and fishes to feed the people. He could’ve just worked a miracle out of nothing and created more than enough for everyone to eat. He didn’t need any assistance, but he chose to invite the disciples to share in his compassion. He chose to take the generosity of the disciples, the little that they had to offer and bring it to completion by working a miracle that only God could work. This is the little way.

How do we cooperate with God

And that’s really the lesson for us: That when we cooperate with God in the little things, when we share our talents and gifts and make an effort to do the little things well, to reach out to others, to serve others and to give of ourselves, to speak the truth in the small ways. God uses that. It doesn’t mean that the little way is always the easiest way. The apostles had to give the little they had. But God used their generosity.

The same is true for us and a helpful way is to ask ourselves often, “What is the path of love for me? How can I love more in this moment? Right now?” We can ask that question at the beginning of the day, throughout the day and at the end of the day. With time, we will truly see that God accomplishes a lot though us and uses us to further his kingdom here on earth! May God Bless you.

[1] Robert Barron, How to Discern God’s Will for Your Life (Skokie: Word on Fire Ministries, 2016), 3.

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