When we see someone doing a good deed for someone else, you would think that our natural reaction would be happiness. You would think that we would give thanks when we see someone going out of their way to help someone out. Unfortunately, often we do not react in this way. For various reasons - jealousy, insecurity or prejudice - we have a tendency to tear down people who do good for others.
Often we negatively judge those who go out of their way to help others. When we see somebody doing good, sometimes we will try to tear them down by suggesting that their motivations for doing good are selfish or misguided. In the gospel of today this is happening to Jesus. Jesus has done a good deed in curing a man of his muteness by casting out a devil. Most people react positively. The Pharisees respond by trying to tear down Jesus. They say bad things about Jesus and His intentions, that He “by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons”. We can act in the same way as the Pharisees sometimes. In school, for example, when one student does some good deed, the other students will call him/her a “teacher’s pet” or “suck-up”. If someone volunteers a lot of time in the Church we may say, either to ourselves or to others, that that person is just looking for attention. When we hear about a celebrity giving a large sum of money to charity we call it a “publicity stunt” or claim they are doing it just to get a tax write-off. When we see other people doing good, we unfortunately have a tendency to try to tear them down by making a negative judgement of their intentions or motivation for doing the act.
The remedy for this kind of judging is to get out and do good deeds ourselves. When we find ourselves falling into the trap of judging negatively those who do charitable acts, we should go and do something kind ourselves. If we are busy doing good works, then we will be too busy for name-calling. We need to remember that God alone can judge people’s hearts and intentions. If we ourselves are the victims of negative judgement, the solution is to continue doing good works. In the gospel Jesus does not respond to the name-calling of the Pharisees. On the other hand He goes out of His way to do more for the needy. Jesus’ is more concerned to help those who suffer than the derogatory statement of the Pharisees. Jesus recognizes the neediness of the people, that they are like “sheep without a shepherd”. He is concerned with serving, not defending Himself from derogatory comments. At the end of the gospel Jesus expresses His desire that we too become laborers in this work. Whether we find ourselves the victim of negative judgement or we are the one doing the judging, the remedy is to get out and perform charitable, kind acts for the needy.
Today let us examine ourselves. If we find that we judge negatively those who do good works, let us repent. If we ourselves are the victim of such abuse, let us take heart that Jesus Himself suffered in the same way. Whatever the case, let us all ask for the grace to be good laborers at service of those in need, who do the right thing regardless of what others think or say about us.