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The City on a Hill

Why do we do good deeds?  

Is it because we instinctively want to do the right thing? Perhaps Christian values are so embedded in our Western society that it is simply natural? Is it in reaction to emotions such as empathy or moral outrage? Or is it because Jesus told us to?  

All these seem correct, and there would be many other reasons why individuals put the needs of others before their own. However, I was taught as a child that telling people afterwards was crass, akin to talking about money or your achievements. How many of us were told as children to ‘stop showing off’? 

So how do we make sense of the theme found in today’s readings? How do we marry the idea of being as visible as a city on a hill, with the idea of humility? 

“Thus says the Lord: Share your bread with the hungry, and shelter with the poor; clothe the man you see to be naked and turn not from your own kin. Then your light will shine like the dawn and your wound be quickly healed over.” (Isaiah 58:7-8)  

We do not have to talk about it. We just have to do it. Once we make doing charitable deeds part of who we are, it will be seen. That is wonderful, not because we want to be thought of as a good Christian and have people admire us, or because we are showing off, but because our good works become part of who we are. Jesus said, “...your light must shine in the sight of men, so that seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in Heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) So, through our good works, we could be introducing people to a relationship with Christ. Is there a better deed than this?  

If you are feeling sorry for yourself, and your burdens seem too difficult to bear, look for a way to help someone else, even by just listening to their problems. This means that instead of looking inwardly, and making yourself sick on resentments, you are forced to get out of your own head and see how fortunate you are compared to others. I believe that this is what Isaiah means with the words “your wound be quickly healed over.”  

Doing good work is not only beneficial to others, but we also look after ourselves whenever we act out of kindness and compassion. And there are many ways to do so.  

Why do I do good deeds? Because I like who am when I do them. I am serving God, serving others, and serving myself. I wish to be well, and people who give to others are usually well. I don’t take credit for good deeds; I am convinced that God holds my hand when I help others, and that He leads the way. Truth is, I am lost without that guidance.  

If you are stuck for a way to do good deeds, pray. Ask God for the opportunity to help someone today. That opportunity will arise.  

Take it. 

Source: 5th Sunday Ordinary Time Year 1

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