Wednesday, June 17, 2009


First Reading: 2 Cor 9:6-11
Psalm: Ps 112:1bc-4, 9 -- Blessed the man who fears the Lord
Gospel: Mt 6:1-6, 16-18

Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. - Matthew 6:1


When you were young, did you ever wait until your parents were around before cleaning your room, or hint to them that they should notice you did the dishes? I can recall a good many instances when I would drop not-so-subtle hints to my parents that I had done my chores without even being asked. I might have done it a few weeks ago when installing a few things around the house.

In today's gospel, Jesus gives us three examples of the "hypocrites", doing works in order to be seen. He is not criticizing them for doing the works, but that they waited to do them until someone was watching. In fact, in each of the cases, the hypocrites are drawing attention to themselves. They want to be congratulated, to be seen as people who give large sums, or are very pious. The important thing to them is to get the attention and approval of those around them, not the care of the poor or the state of their relationship with God.

It is not wrong to want recognition for our hard work. On the contrary, Jesus tells us that the Father sees all that we do, and will reward us accordingly. However, when we are seeking the recognition of our neighbors when we do our work, we lose sight of the reason the work is good. In other words, we need to do our work for the work's sake, because it needs to be done, and not because we seek to gain from it. When we volunteer for the soup kitchen, do we do it so that we may boast of our generosity, or so that the poor might be fed? When we do a small task for a family member, are we doing it out of our love for them, or for a mere material reward? If we do not get the reward we want, are we likely to help out again?

It is only when we humbly put away our theatrics designed to garner us praises that we can truly focus on what we are doing and why we are doing it. If we are always busy acting out a part, it will be very difficult to give our attention to the task at hand. Then, in one of the great ironies of the world, we will receive recognition for our work from our fellows. History shows us that our saints and great leaders are men and women who put all of their efforts into devotion or good works, but cared very little about the recognition of their peers. Do not seek recognition for your work; be content with doing work that is worthy of being recognized.
Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. - 2 Corinthians 9:7

Heavenly Father, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Thank you for the teachings that you have given us. Help us to more frequently understand the wisdom of it. Lord, grant that we might be freed from our pride; that we let go of our selfish desire for the admiration of our neighbor and give us a heart that longs only for you. We ask all of this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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