ColumnsNaming Grace


For the feast of Epiphany, we created a centerpiece based on the theme: “Following the Star.” I purchased enough strings of glittering stars for each of the 30 tables. At the end of the evening, I glimpsed over and caught sight of a woman looking over her shoulder and then slipping several strings of stars into her purse. It stunned me. Mind you, it was a small matter: there were plenty of strings; they weren’t expensive; I wasn’t planning on using them soon. If she had only asked, I would have given her any or all to borrow or keep. But from that moment, I never viewed her in quite the same way — I never saw her as trustworthy.

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus warns his disciples to be trustworthy in all things: “The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones.” Trustworthiness always be­gins with small matters. As a friend says, “If you keep track of the nickels, the dollars fall into place.” As theologian John Shea writes: “Our trustworthiness in small things reflects and shows our capacity in greater matters.”

We must be trustworthy in small matters before Jesus entrusts us, as disciples, with large matters. To become a saint, one must be faithful in prayer today, tomorrow, and the next day and the next day. I would bet St. Therese of Lisieux learned to pray from her parents, St. Louis and St. Zelie, one Our Father or Hail Mary at a time. To be a great missionary, we must be trustworthy in our care for the poor, the sick and the lonely in our midst. Mother Teresa began by attending to one dying man. To make strides as a great evangelist, we must first be willing to share Jesus’ love with the person next to us. Bishop Robert Barron sparked a movement through his faithfulness to one student, one paper, one homily, one talk at a time.

As parents/grandparents, we name grace — God’s faithful presence — by liv­ing as trustworthy stewards and active disciples. We teach our children by modeling trustworthiness: telling the truth when it’s hard, staying up late to finish work, rising each morning for prayer, going to church each Sunday. We teach them to be trustworthy by completing a chore — from picking up toys to mowing a neighbor’s yard — in a timely manner. We witness our trustworthiness by fulfilling our vows and promises to God and family. We are trustworthy when we listen to the Spirit and then act — especially when it’s inconvenient, when no one is watching, or it’s a sacrifice of time or treasure. Then we will be entrusted with larger matters.

The woman who took the shining strings of stars may be a lovely woman, but in my eyes, she’s not trustworthy. However, each of us has probably compromised our trustworthiness — skipped corners, missed a deadline, late for a meeting, told a white lie, forgotten an assignment, etc. Thankfully, our Lord forgives and gives us another chance and another chance through the grace of the sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist to be trustworthy in small and great matters. Now, that’s good news!

How have you taught your child to be trustworthy?

When has God entrusted you with larger matters?

Naming Grace in the Domestic Church reflects on Scripture through the lens of a parent/grandparent. To read more reflections or to connect with Mary Pedersen: