“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.” (Luke 16:10)
There is a sentiment in some circles of our society that skews to the favor of those who commit crimes that are termed “victimless”. Recreational drug use, stealing items from a store, and destroying property, are all considered “small” crimes that deserve little to no punishment. Just as marijuana is considered a “gateway” drug, petty larceny can easily lead to theft on a larger scale. Rioting and looting can be a steppingstone to assault and battery, and even murder.
Matters small and large, in terms of sin, are classified as venial and mortal in Church teaching. While mortal sin is serious and deadly, venial sins are not. There is a connection, however. The accumulation of venial sins can provide a pathway to behavior that is graver in nature. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains:
“Venial sin weakens charity; it manifests a disordered affection for created goods; it impedes the soul’s progress in the exercise of the virtues and the practice of the moral good; it merits temporal punishment. Deliberate and unrepented venial sin disposes us little by little to commit mortal sin. However venial sin does not break the covenant with God. With God’s grace it is humanly reparable. “Venial sin does not deprive the sinner of sanctifying grace, friendship with God, charity, and consequently eternal happiness.” (CCC 1863)
In the parable of the talents, trustworthiness in all aspects of life, no matter what size, is illustrated by several servants who are given different increments of currency to utilize. The contrast between the two men receiving smaller amounts is stark, and offers insight into how things work in God’s economy:
“Master, you gave me two talents. See, I have made two more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.’ His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? (Mt 25:22-27)
The servant “faithful in small matters” was entrusted with greater responsibilities, while the other servant was punished for his laziness and lack of trust. The lesson to be learned and applied in our lives is that good stewardship is required of each of us according to the gifts we have been given. Let us pray for the grace to be trustworthy in all the areas of our lives, big and small, as we journey toward Heaven.