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Do Small things with Great Love
All of us want to do something grand to show our love for our loved ones. It would be marvellous if we have the opportunity to do it. But, we don’t need to carry out grand things in order to show great love for others and for God. We don’t have to do big things only small things with great love. It is the intensity of love we put into our actions every day that makes them into something beautiful for God and for others. It is not the magnitude of our action that counts but the depth of love we put into it.
So, how do we show how much love we put into our deeds every day? Mother Teresa shows us how, “Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.
How does a lamp burn? Through the continuous input of small drops of oil. If the drops of oil run out, the light of the lamp will cease, and the bridegroom will say, “I do not know you” (Matthew 25:1-13).
What are these drops of oil in our lamps? They are the small things of daily life: faithfulness, punctuality, small words of kindness, a thought for others, our way of being silent, of looking, of speaking, and of acting. These are the true drops of love that keep our religious life burning like a lively flame.
Do not look for Jesus away from yourselves. He is not out there; He is in you. Keep your lamp burning, and you will recognize Him.” (A Life for God, 70)
Even a small thing like being present for others can be done with great love. Mother Teresa says:
“If there is a need God will guide you, as He guided us to serve those with AIDS. We don’t judge these people, we don’t ask what happened to them and how they got sick, we just see the need and care for them. I think God is telling us something with AIDS, giving us an opportunity to show our love. People with AIDS have awakened the tender love in those who had perhaps shut it out and forgotten it.
Sister Dolores shows how simply being there with love is often enough:
‘There is a lot of fear at the beginning for those who come to us with AIDS. It is hard for them to cope with the fact that they are going to die. But being there with us and seeing us with others in their last moments makes a difference. I remember in New York that the mother of a man from Puerto Rico offered to nurse him if he came home. He thanked her but said he would remain with us, though he would visit her. One day he told me, ‘I know when I am dying you will be there holding my hand,’ because he had seen us doing it with others and knew that he wouldn’t die alone.
It’s quite simple really. The dying are moved by the love they receive and it may be just a touch of my hand, or a glass of water, or providing them with some kind of sweet they desire. You just take that to them, what they ask for, and they are satisfied and know someone cares for them, someone loves them, someone wants them---and that, in itself, is a great help to them. Because of this they believe that God must be even kinder, more generous, and so their souls are lifted up to God. As we don’t preach, we just do what we do with love, they are touched by God’s grace.’
Brother Geoff, General Servant of the Ministries of Charity Brothers, also comments of the best way to offer love:
‘When people who are used to being rejected and abandoned experience being accepted by others and being loved, when they see people are giving their time and energy for them, that conveys a message that, after all, they are not rubbish.
Certainly, love is expressed first in being with before doing to someone. We have to continually, renew our awareness of this because we can get caught up in a lot of the doing for. You see, if our actions do not first come from the desire to be with a person, then it really becomes just social work. When you are willing to be with a poor person you can recognise his need and if your love is genuine you naturally want to do what you can as an expression of your love. Service, in a way, is simply a means of expressing your being for the person---and often with the poorest people you cannot completely alleviate their problem. But by being with them, by being for them, whatever you can do for them makes a difference. The message we try to convey to the poorest of the poor is: We cannot solve your problems but God loves you even while you are handicapped or alcoholic or have leprosy, and whether or not you become cured, God loves you just as much and we are here to express that love. And if we can help relieve their pain a bit all well and good, but it is more important for us to remind them that even in the midst of pain and suffering, God loves them. It’s a difficult message to communicate, obviously, but we believe that being for them is the first thing. If you spend time with a person then that is as much an expression of love as what you can do for them.’” (A Simple Path, 87-90)
"I would like it very much if our
Co-Workers, each in his or her own immediate environment, would concentrate more
and more on giving service freely and generously to the poor. Let each of them
seek out those who live alone, who lack affection, those cut off, in any way,
and try to see in them the suffering Christ.
Give some a smile, visit someone for a short time, make a fire for someone who is cold, read something to someone. These are small things, very small, but they will make your love for God more concrete." (Stories of Mother Teresa, 61)
“It may happen that a mere smile, a short visit, the lighting of a lamp, writing a letter for a blind man, carrying a bucket of charcoal, offering a pair of sandals, reading the newspaper for someone—--something small, very small—--may, in fact, be our love of God in action.” (A Life for God, 77)
Again, Father Henri Nouwen shows us how we can choose love in the little things we do every day: “We choose love by taking small steps of love every time there is an opportunity. A smile, a handshake, a word of encouragement, a phone call, a card, an embrace, a kind greeting, a gesture of support, a moment of attention, a helping hand, a present, a financial contribution, a visit---all these are little steps toward love.
Each step is like a candle burning in the night. It does not take the darkness away, but it guides us through the darkness. When we look back after many small steps of love, we will discover that we have made a long and beautiful journey.” (Bread for the Journey, June 15)
To pay attention to others can also be done with great love, as Father Henri Nouwen says, “Paying attention to our fellow human beings is far from easy. We tend to be so insecure about our self-worth and so much in need of affirmation that it is very hard not to ask for attention ourselves. Before we are fully aware of it, we are speaking about ourselves, referring to our experiences, telling our stories, or turning the subject of conversation toward our own territory. The familiar sentence, ‘That reminds me of. . .’ is a standard method of shifting attention from the other to ourselves. To pay attention to others with the desire to make them the center and to make their interests our own is a real form of self-emptying, since to be able to receive others into our intimate inner space we must be empty. That is why listening is so difficult. It means our moving away from the center of attention and inviting others into that space.
From experience we know how healing such an invitation can be. When someone listens to us with real concentration and expresses sincere care for our struggles and our pains, we feel that something very deep is happening to us. Slowly, fears melt away, tensions dissolve, anxieties retreat, and we discover that we carry within us something we can trust and offer as a gift to others. The simple experience of being valuable and important to someone else has a tremendous re-creative power.” (Compassion, 80)
Ultimately, God will not ask us how many projects we have accomplished, the number of books we have read, nor how many degrees we have obtained, but He will ask us if we have done our best, for the love of Him and others.
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