02 May 2011

Man of the Night

No, it's not the Phantom of the Opera, it's a Pharisee named Nicodemus. We learn in John's Gospel that Nicodemus visited Jesus at night -- quite likely because, as a leader of the Jews, he might have been afraid of what other Pharisees might think. Have we ever acted from a similar motivation? Perhaps in our hearts we feel strongly about something but we are unable to act in a way which is commensurate with our feelings. Maybe we are out at a restaurant sharing a meal with a friend and we want to say grace before eating but instead of asking our friend to join us in praying, we pray quietly to ourselves and carry on with the meal. Or perhaps we are driving with a family member and a homeless person approaches our car and we hesitate to give him money or talk to him, as we might do if we were alone.

It may not seem to matter whether we say grace by ourselves or with our dining companion but what we will never know (at least not on this side of eternity) is how it affected the people around us. There might have been a lonely soul, eating alone, whose heart was warmed by seeing us bless ourselves and pray. We can never know the far-reaching effects of our small deeds of fidelity. Nothing, is small in the eyes of God. Nothing at all. Not a smile, a good deed, a warm greeting or even just a good intention. Nothing is small to the loving eyes of our heavenly Father.

"Great works lie not always in our way, but every moment we may do little ones with excellence, that is, with a great love. Behold that Saint, I beg you, who bestows a cup of cold water on the thirsty traveler; he does but a small matter in outward show, but the intention, the sweetness, the love, with which he animates his work is so excellent, that it turns this simple water into water of life, and of eternal life."
St. Francis de Sales

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