There are times, when the thought of doing a good deed, or anything at all, is incredibly tiring and unpleasant; when the thought of doing anything and the thought of doing nothing seem equally exhausting. These are tough times, but good news: this is the best time to do good. Being good to be happy is wonderful, but has a selfish element to it, and is too easy. But when we’re suffering, and decide we may as well do something good, it is a good for goodness sake, and as it demands more, it means more.
At these times, we are with Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, and can pray earnestly, and accept the cup God offers us, or fall asleep with sheer grief with the apostles.
Perhaps most of the good we do/can do, isn’t/won’t be properly appreciated. Keeping up standards won’t earn many thanks, because it is taken for granted, even though others would be horrified if it wasn’t done (emptying bins and cleaning toilets spring to mind). But these works, done in silence, are made pure this way. To continuously serve lowly and quietly, without gratitude but with love, is a way of great holiness. I wonder, how many of the saints (known and unknown) cleaned toilets?
Although it seems almost selfish to not call gratitude to the minds of others. But, we should encourage gratitude to others and to God, and not to ourselves, and firstly by example of gratitude. And when others are more grateful to God for all things, they will be more, and more perfectly, grateful to those God works through also, as seeing the utter graciousness of all existence.
The hidden life of the Holy Family perfectly illustrates this. We have no record of what Jesus, Mary and Joseph were doing for most of their lives, and yet, this was the life of Jesus, the Son of God. God came to the world in the most everyday way possible: Mary gave birth to him. He was covered in that weird, bloody slime, and crying, and couldn’t lift his own head or say a word. He had to be fed, each and every day, over and over again, and couldn’t say thank you, even if he wanted to. Jesus worked quietly (as far as we know) as a simple carpenter for years before he began his ministry. Joseph loved, supported and protected Jesus and Mary, including as refugees in Egypt. The life of the carpenter was also the life of God’s father.
Today (technically yesterday) is the feast of the Queenship of Mary, and what I love, is that God makes her Queen, precisely because she is His lowly handmaid, ready to do everything for God, from the commonplace and everyday, to the miraculous, dangerous, and even sacrificial, for faith in God. Wherever she is, she is there for God.
Of course, Jesus, Mary and Joseph were by no means unexceptional, but they didn’t scorn the lowly works, and were always persistent in faith, hope, and charity, and this prepared them for their more astounding feats. The majority of their lives consisted of the small things of life, that form a humble foundation for the bigger actions.
This said, we must also not lose sight by our service and miss out on the better part like Martha (Lk 10:38-42). She was distracted, caring about many things instead of the one thing, and her care for Jesus’ stomach caused neglect of Jesus himself. We need to learn to stop and sit at his feet, and to wash his feet with our hair and tears, cover them with kisses and anoint them with ointment (Lk 7:38). And we need to let Jesus wash our feet too (Jn 13:8). We should treat Jesus this way in his body, the Church, in his holy sacraments, and in the poor and needy.
God bless you!