Sunday’s Gospel gave me a lot to reflect about and has really renewed my optimism for this year of faith. I have always looked at the story of the woman, who gave her two pennies, as only to do with money and making me feel guilty for owning an iphone. My parish priest’s homily, on the other hand, chose to focus on how the little things we give in life can be multiplied, if only we give them. This does not merely extend to our wallets, but rather includes things like our time, our talents, and our prayers. He is the one who fed five thousand people with only a couple loaves of bread and some fish after all! It really made me think about my prayer life though. Many times I catch myself feeling discouraged and doubting whether my one small prayer will make a difference. But, clearly as my priest pointed out nothing could be more contrary to the truth. This is something that I found encouraging, especially when thinking about the year of faith. I had so much optimism leading up this year of faith, but recently have been feeling discouraged.
Maybe it’s the athlete in me that dreams about a big and glorious victory, while forgetting that God never works that way. When we look at how God has worked throughout salvation history we see that God works slowly, he uses the least likely people, he starts small. While I may not see all my friends and family back in the pews on Sunday, if I see even one back by the end of this year, then that is a victory. I just need to keep reminding myself that God’s ways are not my ways.
I was also further encouraged when I came across this excerpt, today, from our own Pope Benedict XVI in his book Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week, in which he talks about the answer to our questions about why God does things the way he does. “Lord how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, but not the whole world?” (Jn 14:22) Why did you not forcefully resist those who would nail you on a cross? Why did you reveal yourself only to a small group of disciples? Why only to Abraham and not the mighty of the world? Why only to Israel and not the entire world?
The Pope answers with this and I strongly recommend reading anything by Pope Benedict XVI!
“It is part of the mystery of God that he acts so gently, that he only gradually builds up his history within the great history of mankind; that he becomes man and so can be overlooked by his contemporaries and by the decisive forces within history; that he suffers and dies and that, having risen again, he chooses to come to mankind only through the faith of the disciples to whom he reveals himself; that he continues to knock gently at the doors of our hearts and slowly opens our eyes if we open our doors to him.
And yet–is not this the truly divine way? Not to overwhelm with external power, but to give freedom, to offer and elicit love. And if we really think about it, is it not what seems so small that is truly great? Does not a ray of light issue from Jesus, growing brighter across the centuries, that could not come from any mere man and through which the light of God truly shines into the world? Could the apostolic preaching have found faith and built up a worldwide community unless the power of truth had been at work within it?
If we attend to the witness with listening hearts and open ourselves to the signs by which the Lord again and again authenticates both them and himself, then we know that he is truly risen. He is alive. Let us entrust ourselves to him, knowing that we are on the right path. With Thomas let us place our hands into Jesus’ pierced side and confess: “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28).”
Let us continue to pray for our loved ones in this year of faith, and be encouraged that our prayers, although small, can be multiplied to do great things.