How much of what we do, do we expect repayment for? If not explicitly than at least implicitly? I’m not impugning any one’s integrity, or doubting that what we do may be for purely altruistic reasons, but how often do we at least think we’ll be repaid? It scares me to think about how many times it ran through my mind that I might be doing a good deed hoping that it would come back to me, that it would be to my credit. We seem to act like we believe in karma, even though that is surely not a part of our belief system. In the Gospel reading Jesus is asking us to act without expecting anything in return. Do good for those who cannot possibly repay you. Even then it seems to be a Catch-22, we try to do good, not explicitly looking for a reward, but in the back of our minds the idea of repayment in some form exists. Now, this isn’t all bad, it does serve to motivate good behavior, sort of like tax breaks for charitable donations. Jesus isn’t asking us to do the impossible, to completely ignore the possibility our good works may work for us. What we need to question is our primary motivation for the things we do. Do we act solely in expectation of reward? Or, is the possibility of reward only a dim idea floating in the back of our minds? Maybe that is where Jesus wants us, acting for the good, helping others, and as a by-product, helping ourselves.
Monday of the 31st Week in Ordinary Time
Nov. 6, 2006