As a good Catholic, I go to Mass every Sunday; as a mediocre Catholic, I hardly pay attention to the Homily of the day or if I do, the lesson of the day stays with me for about five seconds. Yesterday however, it was different. I guess I have to say I was the happy recipient of what some may call an “epiphany.” For many weeks, months, even years, I’ve been feeling despondent about the quality of humankind, particularly when it comes to the prevalence of selfishness and greed; this despondency has been marked by a sense of impotence, frustration and at times rage, which is usually directed at the current political scene. As I’ve struggled with these feelings in my mind and in my heart, I’ve been wondering why I should care so much, why should I worry about things I have no control over, and why NOW? But yesterday’s lesson was perhaps the answer I’ve been searching for; the balm that may have soothed my aching soul for good.
And the lesson (Luke 10:25-37) is this: our good deeds don’t come from us but from God. We do “good” not because WE are good, but because God makesus do good. In other words, the credit for our good deeds, our charitable actions, is not ours to enjoy. It is not OUR goodness that provokes those acts, but God’s. We’ve practically no control over it, other than our willingness to open our hearts to God’s work through us. So when I rant & rave about why aren’t people more charitable, why can’t they forget their own well-being and think more of their neighbors in need, blah, blah, blah, it is a useless concern. I’ve been liberated! If there is not enough good in this world, it’s probably because when we wrap ourselves around ourselves and shut out God’s influence from our lives thinking that it’s all up to us, then God’s Goodness cannot come through. We HAVE to let God act through us; we HAVE to eliminate the idea that WE are in control. Ultimately, we’re not. If we were, we would truly be in hell.