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Wednesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

My dear encountered couples:

Most of us, if not all, have the tendency to want others to know about the good we do. Maybe we won’t get written up in the newspapers or have our names remembered in history books for our works of charity, but we might like to drop a word or two, here or there, about something nice we have done. You know what I mean, you don’t need to have me spell it out for you. We all in subtle, if not obvious, ways like to make sure somebody out there notices what good guys we are.

A little praise, a good reputation, what’s wrong with that? Well, nothing! Unless it becomes the end-all for our doing anything good.

Jesus is talking about people who pray in such a way as to be sure other people notice. He is talking about people who fast and abstain and do works of charity in order to be acclaimed and honored and looked up to. It seems some people were doing that. What motivated their acts of holiness were not love or gratitude or goodness, but pride and self-concern.

Watch it, Jesus warns us. If we are tempted to blow our own horns so that people stand up and take notice of how great we are, that is when we need to begin saying our prayers in private, fasting unnoticed, and slipping a few bucks into a needy hand without even our wallets realizing that something has been removed from them.

“Keep your deeds of mercy secret,” Jesus said, “and your Father in heaven who sees in secret will repay you.”

But we need to be very careful even about that. We are not to do good things in order to receive heavenly rewards. Hasn’t God already done more than enough for us?

Let us do good acts just out of gratitude to God. And then try to forget it. If only we could!

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