Tending to the Least of These

 by Paola Victoria Castillo, age 9

Doing small deeds with great love is the “Little Way” to heaven, according to one of my favorite saints, Therese of Lisieux. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40). I can follow Jesus’ command to care for the least of these around me by loving my immediate family, my extended family, and my community.

First and foremost, I serve the least of these in my own house since charity begins at home. Before my three-year-old brother Felipe was born, I helped my parents prepare: I crocheted and bought him clothes, I wrote in his journal, and I listened to his heartbeat. After his birth, I was overjoyed because I prayed fervently for a baby sibling. The first few months of his life I held him, put him to sleep, helped bathed him, and entertained him. Now, I enjoy playing with him, reading to him, teaching him to swim, and assisting when he is sick. When I do those small deeds, I am helping the least of these in my family.

Next, I love Jesus by showing concern for my extended family. Many of my relatives do not live close by. Therefore, I call them frequently and send them letters in the mail asking them how they are doing and sharing my activities with them. As often as possible, I visit my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins and brighten their day by serenading them with my singing and violin and piano playing. During Hurricane Irma I welcomed my paternal grandparents and uncle to stay in our home because they live on the beach, which was not safe. These little works of mercy were my gifts to Jesus.

Finally, I reach out to the least of these in my community. For instance, my family and I go to Planned Parenthood to stand on the sidewalk and hold poster boards promoting life. My favorite one has a beautiful picture of a baby and says “Life is precious.” Moreover, we pray the rosary for an end to killing babies and bless the abortion mill grounds with holy water. Normally drivers who pass by show support by honking and giving us a thumbs up. I am happy that we are making a difference by standing up for the preborn. Another example is when we donate to the Knights of Columbus food drive and volunteer at the food pantry near us. I pack big brown bags to the top with non-perishable goods. The homeless form a line to wait for one or two bags of food to last them a month. Once in a while we bring diapers and clothes to help them.

Even though I am only a child, I can wholeheartedly and cheerfully respond to Jesus’ command to tend to the least of these in my immediate family, my extended family, and my community. As I pray for others, care for my younger sibling, pass on a smile to my relatives, or witness to the preborn and the poor, I am caring for the least of these. By giving of my time, talent, and treasure, I am doing small deeds with great love for Jesus and aiming for the goal of heaven!

© 2017 Paola Victoria Castillo. Published with permission.