We expect so many things from everyone. We expect to be respected; we expect to be paid or repaid; we expect to be loved the way we want to be loved; we even expect God to repay our “good deeds.” This is presumptuous of us and is a result of our concupiscence. Our pride tells us that we’re “owed” something for our actions. Well, Jesus reminds us in today’s gospel, that we are not owed anything for doing what we are supposed to do.
We are called to be charitable to others, to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. When we do this, why would we expect anything in return? We are called to love, not to be loved. If our neighbor does not love us in return, are we called to retaliate or deprive another of our charity? No, Jesus says to love your neighbor and to love is to “will the good of another.” We can do that in so many ways, such as simply attending to their needs. If they’re naked, clothe them without expecting anything in return. If they’re hungry, feed them without expecting anything in return. If they thirst, give them something to drink without expecting anything in return. If they’re mourning, comfort them without expecting anything in return. If your charity is reciprocated, great! But don’t feel put out if it isn’t. Don’t think less of that person if it isn’t. This is the lesson here. By doing what is commanded of you by God, don’t expect a congratulations or special accolades. We are called to live a life of charitable actions as Christians and expect nothing in return. And after living according to what has been commanded of us, we might be welcomed into heaven. Don’t expect it, because only the Just Judge will determine where we go after particular judgement. Don’t presume that you’ve earned the beatific vision because you’ve been a disciple. Presumption is a pitfall that must be avoided at all costs.
Humility and presumption are absolutely incompatible. Presumption comes from pride, the wellspring of the most heinous sins. When we presume that we’ve done good things that warrant heaven, we are actually saying to God that we can judge ourselves and have no need for Him. Is that what we really want to say to our Creator? Certainly not, so please, don’t fall into the trap of presumption. That snare is from the devil, who we must resist and reject every single day. Satan wants to deprive us from heaven, not because he wants it, but because he does not want us to have it. His wickedness knows no boundaries and he will use every means possible to rob you of your faith and your trust in God.
To help avoid these traps, do the things that God has called us to do for one reason only: purely out of love for Him. Love all that He has created because He loves His creation. Discern His will in your life by praying to Him for guidance, by praising Him for all that He has done for you and ask Him to increase the gifts of the Holy Spirit in you. Then you can demonstrate your faith by trusting Him and His will in your life. Does this mean that we take a “hands off” approach? No, not by a long shot. We should pray earnestly daily because that is our ongoing conversation with God. We should thank Him daily for our blessings, gifts, and talents because they all come from Him alone. We should obey His commandments out of our love for Him, especially about loving our neighbor, because God loves that person, too. Maybe that’s why God entrusted that person’s needs to you at that moment. Sometimes we are the blessing that God bestows on that person and humbly accept that responsibility. Trust that God has our best interests at heart in all that we receive, whether it’s sickness or health, wealth or poverty, easy days or trials. That “No” to our prayers is actually a blessing that comes with a lesson in holiness.
Have faith and carry on. Give help where and when you can, not because it will get you something, but because God has called us to be a blessing unto others. Trust Him in everything.
Ms. Renee Valenzuela, OP