6th Sunday in Ordinary Time. February 15th 2015.
Lv 13:1-2, 44-46; 1Cor 10:31-11:1, Mk 1:40-45
Doing all for the glory of God
In one of my first visits to a religious community while discerning my vocation to the consecrated life, I found myself wondering what moved the members of this community to choose this way of life. I wanted to get some assurance that I was not losing my mind by pursuing this vocation. I asked one of the religious brothers what moved him to choose religious life and he gave what I have come to call the “Nike” answer, “Just do it.” I was not satisfied with his response. “Just do it?” What about the motives for doing it? Doesn’t the motive matter for choosing a particular vocation?
St. Paul was not a “just do it” guy as he reminds the Christians in Corinth that “Whether you eat or drink, whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” They had to get in touch with the motives behind their decision to eat or to abstain from eating meat sacrificed to idols. They had to make sure that they were not about pleasing themselves alone but their motives were to be both God-centred and not offensive or scandalous to others.
The First Reading from the Book of Leviticus is pretty clear about how lepers are to be treated. The lepers are to rend their garments, shave their heads, muffle their beards, cry out, “Unclean, unclean,” and they are to live apart from the rest of the community.
But why did Jesus choose to speak with a leper in today’s Gospel passage? Why did He do the unthinkable of His time and touch a leper so as to heal him? It definitely was not to win the followership of the leper who later disobeyed His stern warnings and instructions. It was not to shock or scandalize others but, as in all things, Jesus acted out of pity: “Moved with pity, He stretched out His hand, touched him and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” Everything that Jesus did and endure for us throughout His life He did out of pity for us, to grant us the eternal life and graces that we need, and thus to glorify the Father. Jesus was surely not a “Just do it” person but He was constantly moved by the desire to give glory to the Father: “I have glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do.” (Jn 17:4)
The disobedience of the leper to Jesus’ stern instruction, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest,” caused Jesus some inconvenience. By the healed leper’s spreading the story everywhere, it became “impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly, as He remained outside in deserted places.” But Jesus was never disappointed because He saw His Father working to bring people to Him even in deserted places: “People kept coming to Him from everywhere.” Only the Father can move souls to seek Christ, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” (Jn 6:44) When we choose to do all things for the glory of God, we are never disappointed because we too begin to see God acting in our lives.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we must stop and ask ourselves the true motive for doing all that we do in this life and for the choices that we make. It is not just enough to do the good but we have to do so for the right intentions and the greater glory of God is the best intention. We start often with a good motive but selfish motives begin to creep in and undermine our decisions. Our intentions may never be perfectly pure but we must journey towards ever purer motives for all that we do. How do we cultivate this purity of intention in all that we do in life? Here are some ways that I have found helpful in journeying towards a more pure intention in all things.
First of all make a Morning offering at the beginning of each day, offering all your thoughts, words and actions of the day to the greater glory of God. This is to be conscious of the motives for all that we do. Renew this offering often during the day especially at difficult moments of the day when the selfish motive appears to creep up on us. Times of trials are privileged moments to renew our motives for all that we do.
Secondly, unite these morning offering to the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass and beg for the grace of purer intention in all things. This gives infinite value to what is offered in the Morning offering. Thirdly, never give up on doing the good that is being done for the glory of God. Perseverance in difficult moments is a genuine sign that we are not doing things for selfish motives.
Lastly, offer all to Jesus through Mary. Self-love and self-seeking creeps so easily into the things that we do such that we so easily begin to seek self in them without even being conscious of it. God was glorified most perfectly in the Incarnation of the Word, an event that occurred through the consent of Mary whose one desire was for the greater glory of God and our salvation. Mary knows and participates most perfectly in seeking the greater glory of God with what is placed in her hands. Giving all to Jesus through Mary and allowing her to dispose of all that we have and are according to her good pleasure allows us to share in her own perfect intention for all her actions as well as leads to the greater glory of God in ways that we cannot fathom.
In this Eucharist, we come into contact with Christ Jesus who brings to this world a share in His own perfect motive. He calls us too to go beyond doing the good but to do the good for the best of motives – the greater glory of God: “Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good works and glorify your heavenly Father.” (Mt 5:16)
It is once again out of pity for us that He comes to us. If we let Him make our motives pure like His, we will never be disappointed in the good that we do because we will see God acting in our lives.
Glory to Jesus!!! Honour to Mary!!!