Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Your Father who sees in secret will repay you

Many weird and strange desires plague the human heart, not the least of them is to appear more important than we actually are. We like letting people see all the good things that we do because we crave praise. Of course, when it comes to our faults we like to cover them all up because "that's not who we really are." Obviously that's not true. Our faults and our sins are as much a part of our character as our good deeds and virtues. Pride is when we exaggerate our own goodness.

Today's Gospel warns that = Christians are not to be doing good works for the sake of fame. If we pray, give alms, or fast for the sake of other's opinions, we will quickly be seduced by the sin of pride. We will lose sight of our sinfulness and our dependence on God for his mercy. We'll start thinking "oh my sins aren't so terrible!" or "at least I'm not as bad as that guy over there." The reality is that if you had not the grace of God, you would likely be committing the same sins as those whom you condemn. When we forget that, then we sin by pride.

We have to remember that I am capable of the same sins that we condemn in others. I have a free will and at any point I could choose to reject God's help and turn to sin. Moreover, either I've committed the sins I condemn in the past or I've been tempted to do them, but by God's providence, by His grace, the very stamp of His image on me, I overcame these sins. It wasn't by my own power, but it was by God's power. And if we do good by God's power, what credit is it for us? Why should we claim the praise? Instead, turn the praise back to God. It is God who hides us in the shelter of his presence. Therefore, the greatest defense against pride is gratitude, recognizing the great gifts God has given to us.

As a Christian, you will be doing good works. You are called to be a light to the world and the salt of the earth. If you are living the Christian life, people are going to see it. The question is why are you doing it? Are you doing it so that others praise you? Or are you doing it so that God might be better known and loved? That's a question we continually have to ask ourselves. Every new action can be done for God or for ourselves.

For this reason Jesus counsels us to avoid the occasion of fame and do our good in secret. Pray in an inner room. Don't blow trumpets when you give alms, and don't let others see that you're fasting. Your Father who sees in secret will repay you. It is being known and praised by our Heavenly Father, not other human persons which is of greatest importance. The Lord promises that we will be repaid, and this payment will be found in Heaven where we will enter into a perfect friendship with our Father. We will enjoy His company, knowing and loving Him for the rest of eternity. Sometimes when we are doing good, we feel discouraged because no one else seems to care, but remember this: your Father sees everything that you do. He knows the value of our labor and with how much love you carry out your service. Rather than give you an earthly reward, the Father has a greater one that is waiting for you in the life to come.

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