In New Wine Wednesday

By Sarah Damm


One day, during the first trimester of pregnancy with my twins, I was talking to my neighbor. I was feeling quite sick, and even the thought of cooking dinner made me nauseous. I wondered how I was going to feed my family of five, while feeling so horrible.

My neighbor immediately offered to cook for my family. Without any hesitancy, she simply said she would double whatever she was cooking for her family and bring us dinner most evenings; she would tell me the days that wouldn’t work.

I paid her for groceries, but essentially, she cooked dinner for my family for that entire first trimester. I was blown away by her generosity; I still am.

Very few people know of her corporal work of mercy toward my family. And yet, the One who is most important knows … and is well pleased.

Most of the time, the way we live out our faith is quite hidden. Our husbands may know of the daily Rosary we pray for our children and extended family members. Our pastor may notice us at daily Mass. Our neighbor may recognize our service toward her with a grateful smile. But it is most likely that the majority of our acts of faith, kindness, and mercy will be anonymous. It is most likely that we won’t become famous, like Blessed Mother Teresa, for what we do in the name of Jesus Christ.

Today, we celebrate the Feast of St. Bartholomew. He is one of the 12 apostles, but he is lesser known than some of the others. In fact, he may be one that is somewhat anonymous.

Bartholomew didn’t become as “famous” as St. Peter or St. John, and yet his faithfulness to Christ is not inferior. Jesus saw something special in Bartholomew: “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him” (John 1:47).

Jesus’ recognition of Bartholomew’s faithfulness is all that matters. And in Bartholomew’s inconspicuousness, he is raised up in the Kingdom of God.

Recognition, pats on the back, accolades. These things don’t make us better Catholics; these things don’t make what we do count more. In fact, I’d go so far as to say the faith-filled things we do that go unnoticed are probably worth more to Jesus than anything we are recognized for. Because our hidden, quiet acts of faith are offered in love to Him alone.

St. Bartholomew, pray for us.

  • Alice Fonda Henson Workman

    Your neighbor was a godly friend, indeed. Some of the greatest acts of kindness in my memory banks were anonymous. When I was 50, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was totally unexpected though we had just come through a time of great stress. Just when I thought things were taking a turn for the better, this hit. After a few hours of sheer terror, my faith kicked in and I decided I could do this. Still I needed a lot of support and hugs.

    After my lumpectomy I was given a sling to wear until they pulled the tubes. It made for a perfect opportunity for people to ask, “Did you break your arm”. For most of them my answer, “No, I have breast cancer” was totally unexpected. Some scurried away as quickly as possible, but most said, “I’m sorry; what can I do for you”? My answer was always the same, “Pray for me” and I feel sure many did. Many- and some of these were complete strangers- checked on me from time to time for weeks and months.

    I began received anonymous gifts. Two box seat tickets for the farm team game on the 4th arrived. I had not been to a baseball game since I was 15 and was not sure I wanted to go. I tried all month with no success to give them away. Cheapskate that I am, I could not just toss them, so Mike and I went to the game. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed the game and the fireworks afterwards from the stands over the river were magnificent. I hope at some level my Good Samaritan knows how much I enjoyed that evening.

    And that was not the end of the gifts. Besides the physical gifts there was the grandmother of one of my Sunday School children who took me out to lunch, invited me to a Reach to Recovery meeting, and told me all about it. As soon as my year of recovery was done, I became a Reach to Recovery volunteer. For a while I was not sure how much good I was doing until the luncheon meeting I attend to find that all at my table were ladies I had visited.

    Now days my mission is helping at our local hospital Extended Care. I help with the monthly birthday party, supper club, and delivering the local paper each Thursday. No matter what mood I am in those days, I come home feel really special after all the love and attention that they give me. I have found that giving always makes you feel better and, I hope, pleases God.

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