Short Talk based on Mark 9:41
One of the greatest saints of the twentieth century was without doubt Mother Teresa. Born in what is now Macedonia, to ethnic Albanian parents, she felt a call to the religious life at the age of 12, and six years later joined the Sisters of Loreto as a missionary. She initially travelled to Loreto Abbey in Ireland to learn English, before arriving in 1929 in India, taking her first religious vows as a nun on 24 May 1931.
It was on 10 September 1946, that Teresa experienced what she later described as "the call within the call" to go and leave the convent and go and live among the poor in Calcutta which she did in 1948, and helped to found a new religious community helping the "poorest among the poor" called the Missionaries of Charity, whose mission was in her own words to care for "the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone."
It is not possible to compare ourselves to Mother Theresa, and the extraordinary impact she had during her lifetime. But it wouldn’t be right to either, as she herself said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
In our Gospel reading today Jesus said “Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.” In saying this Jesus shows us that it is not just the big things that we do which count, but also the little things. Jesus does not forget the small gestures of kindness and love, giving a cup of water, an act of acceptance, a kind word, a smile, taking time to bake someone a cake or write a card, sitting with someone who is unwell, so many little things which in themselves may not seem much, but which make a difference and which God notices.
In the book of Zechariah the prophet says “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” (4:10) It tends to be the big gestures that get recognised and celebrated, but God says “Do not despise the small things.” Just as a house is built from lots of small bricks, so the small acts of kindness matter, because they build to something much bigger.
Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. No act of kindness is too small. The gift of kindness may start as a small ripple that over time can turn into a tidal wave affecting the lives of many.
When we show acts of kindness and love no matter how small or insignificant they may appear, we express something of God’s love for the world, and we help to build God’s kingdom here on earth as in heaven.
So today, look for opportunities to small acts of love and kindness to those we meet, whether they are strangers or friends, and lets not do it with any thought of reward, but simply for the joy of knowing that in helping others we are doing God’s work.
I want to finish with the words of the French Quaker and Missionary Etienne De Grellet who died in 1855. She said "I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being; let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again."