Monday, 26th Week in Ordinary Time
Today’s gospel reading talks about true greatness. And implicitly it talks about motives for service and giving.
For this homily, allow me to borrow the commentary and reflection of William Barclay on today’s gospel passage. According to him there are so many wrong motives for service. He mentions three wrong motives.
There is the desire for prestige. The author A.J. Cronin tells of a nurse he knew when he was in practice as a doctor. For twenty years, single-handed, she had served a ten-mile district. Cronin says, “I marveled at her patience, her fortitude, and her cheerfulness. She was never too tired at night to rise for an urgent call.” “He salary was most inadequate.” “Late one night, after a particularly strenuous day, I ventured to protest to her, ‘Nurse, why don’t you make them pay you more? God knows you are worth it.’” The nurse answered, “If God knows I’m worth it, that’s all that matters to me.” She was working, not for human recognition, but for God. When we work for God, prestige will be the last thing that enters into our mind, for we will know that even our best is not good enough for him.
There is the desire for place. If we are given a task or a position or an office in the Church, we should regard it not as an honor but as a responsibility. There are those who serve the Church, not thinking really of those they serve, but thinking of themselves. A certain Prime Minister was offered congratulations on being elevated to that office. He said, “I do not want your congratulations; but I do want your prayers.” To be chosen for office is to be set apart for service, not elevated to honor.
There is the desire for prominence. Many people will serve or give so long as their service and their generosity are known and they are thanked and praised. It is Jesus’ own instruction that we should not let our left hand know what our right hand is doing. If we give only to gain something out of the giving for ourselves, we have undone much of its good.