“They replied, ‘We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.’ And Jesus said, ‘Bring them here to me.’”
What do you have to give to Jesus today? What are your five loaves and two fish? Do you sometimes bemoan not having more to give, more to do for the pressing needs of the multitude? Do you wish you had more to offer in face of the downward spiral of our country, or the church still reeling from COVID and aggressive secularism? What can you do? What can I do? We are facing big problems.
But recently my thoughts about wanting to do something big to meet big problems have been stirred by something I read by the American writer Wendell Berry. I greatly enjoy Berry’s novels, but it was something he put forward in an essay that spoke to me about wanting to do something big:
“Though many of our worst problems are big, they do not necessarily have big solutions. Many of the needed changes will have to be made in individual lives, in families and households, and in local communities….If we are serious about these big problems, we have got see that the solutions begin and end with ourselves.”
Berry acknowledges that we do need better government, but contends:
“We also need better minds, better friendships, better marriages, better communities. We need persons and households that do not wait upon organizations, but can make necessary changes in themselves, on their own… For most of the history of this country our motto, implied or spoken, has been Think Big. I have come to believe that a better motto, and an essential one now, is Think Little. That implies the necessary change of thinking and feeling, and suggests the necessary work… A couple who makes a good marriage, and raise healthy, morally competent children, are serving the world’s future more directly and surely than any political leader, though they never utter a public word.”
How many of our big problems might be better dealt with by little acts of faithfulness as spouses, parents, neighbors, volunteers and better listeners! I saw this when I was in Kolkata (Calcutta), India, in September, 1997, the very week that Mother Teresa died there. I got to see the city of 14 million people, mostly Hindu, come to a stop to pay tribute to a woman who had so blessed the city and world by her little acts of faithfulness.
While in Kolkata, I visited an orphanage she founded for special needs children rescued from garbage dumps and gutters. It was here I first heard Mother Teresa’s repeated dictum: “God doesn’t ask us to do great things. He asks us to do small things with great love.” The world remembers the five-foot tall diminutive lady for the way she faithfully did little things. Upon being awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace she put forth her life philosophy: “We will love naturally, we will try to do something. First in our own home, next door neighbor in the neighborhood in the country we live.”
‘Thinking Little’ or ‘doing small things’ help better understand the import of today’s scripture. So, “Here Lord, take my five loaves and two fish, it’s all I have to give to you. Do with them what You want!”
A fellow traveler,