“It’s not that big of a deal.” I tell myself this all the time. It’s not that big of a deal when I cut someone off while driving, because I really need to get somewhere by a certain time and it wasn’t really dangerous, right? We tell ourselves that the little things don’t matter, but when it’s really important, we’ll get it right. I won’t cut off another car when it’s dangerous. I won’t put myself before others when it’s something that actually matters.
The Gospel reading for today challenges the mindset that the little things don’t matter. We hear that “the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones.” This isn’t about reprimanding us for making mistakes, and it isn’t similar to If You Give a Mouse a Cookie… Rather, this calls us to consider how all of our actions matter. If I lie about something that might not have any consequence, it becomes that much easier to lie when it is something really important.
The good news is that the flip side of this is also true. The Gospel also tells us, “The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones.” If I show mercy to my toddler over something that seems small to me, like the way their sandwich is cut, it becomes more reflexive for me to show mercy in things that really matter. If I consistently think of the common good in small things, like driving, it becomes easier to think of the common good in the big things too. The call of the Gospel is to consider how all of our actions matter. Every day decisions shape and reveal our values. As we continue to reflect on “Rise Up,” I offer the following questions for our discernment:
- What virtues or values are most central to my life? What do I want to be the guiding virtues for my actions?
- What “little things” do I ignore? What might I want to pay more attention to?
Annie Selak, Ph.D., is a Catholic feminist theologian who researches racism and sexism in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. She serves as the associate director of the Georgetown University Women’s Center.