June 16, 2021
by Steve Scholer
Creighton University's University Relations
click here for photo and information about the writer

Wednesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 367

2 Corinthians 9:6-11
Psalm 112:1bc-2, 3-4, 9
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Praying Ordinary Time

Prayers for Fathers and Husbands

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Judging Others? Or Ourselves?

Parenting Our Adult Children

“…..when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.”

When I was growing up and they passed the collection plate in church, my dad would always put the envelope in face down. I asked why he did that, and he said so no one could see the amount written on the envelope. (The irony of that was our church published an annual “Honor Roll of Donors” that listed each family in alphabetical order and the amount of their annual contributions. Wow! Talk about peer pressure.)

Today, when the basket is passed in our church, my wife and I always make sure our envelope is face down. I think we all have been guilty of watching who puts an envelope in the basket and who does not. One day, in passing, I mentioned this to a friend who helps count the weekend collection, and he shared with me that the majority of parishioners now have their gifts electronically transferred to the church on a weekly basis and how much easier this is for those who count the collection.

Now, think about Mass and the couple always in the front row or the person who must be the first to stand up after the Profession of Faith. Are they our modern-day hypocrites in the synagogue Jesus talks about? Or, are they maybe hard of hearing or have bad eyesight, so the front row makes Mass more meaningful to them? Are they standing up first because they are focused on the Liturgy, and not to draw attention to themselves?

As Christians, we are reminded often of the importance of helping our neighbors. But in Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples, “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.”

So how do we balance the two? Do we wait until the dark of night to pull an elderly neighbor’s trash can back to their garage? Do we refuse to lead the fund drive for the new parish center because that will draw attention? The answer to both is no.

Maybe the hidden message in this passage is not to shy away being generous, from good works and righteous deeds, but rather, to not expect to be recognized for them. We all need to continue to do what we do for our loved ones, our neighbors, the poor and our church because it is the right thing to do; and not for the hope of being singled out as a nice person, a generous person or someone who is kind and considerate. We need to do these good and righteous deeds as a way to honor God.

Going forward, let’s not watch who gives or does not give at Mass or who sits in the front row, but rather, let’s focus on what each and every one of us is doing on a daily basis — without any expectation of public recognition or expressions of gratitude — to live our faith-filled life in service to God and others. 

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