Why is it we all like, for the most part, to be recognized. Sometimes in different ways. When coming into a room where there are guests or friends we like to be noticed and acknowledged, when fulfilling a task we have been working on we like to be complimented for a job well done, or when we do something well and mention it to friends or co-workers, we like to get that pat on the back. I don’t think this is a surprise to anyone, because it’s our human nature to want to be recognized in various ways for things we have done or accomplished.
Sadly, at times I find myself tooting my own horn. Mentioning I had to run here, then got called to do this, then rushed over here for this, then got back just in time for an appointment. Oh yea, and through it all I got such and such done and still got to my meetings. Seriously!! Does anyone even care! Sure, the comment back might be “wow, that’s a lot”, but the real sentiment sounds something like this. “Isn’t that your job, isn’t that what you were ordained to do?” And the second part of that statement is 100% correct.
Sometimes we all get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life. We run from one thing to another and sometimes even spin out of control. When the day comes to end, we wonder if anyone even noticed or appreciated anything that was done. And that answer will always be yes, if it was done with a sincere heart. God ALWAYS notices our good deeds. Actually, he commands us to take care of our brothers and sisters, so of course he’s going to notice. So why do we feel like we need recognition from anyone else?
Many times, it just feels good! Other times, we want to make sure someone else knows what we have done and how much time we invested. And yet other times, we just have to boost our own self esteem. When something is done for the good of others, that is our pat on the back. That is our that-a-boy. That gives us the feeling that we have truly accomplished something great, something marvelous, something Godly. That’s what allows us to sleep soundly at night!
Our Gospel passage from Luke this weekend warns us of taking the place of honor. It reminds us that someone else might be present who deserves that place even more so than us. So when Jesus exhorts us to invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind --- he’s simply asking us to do what he has already done and is continuing to do. The poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame aren’t just other people. They’re me and they’re you. And God has already invited us into the feast. He’s welcomed us in through our baptisms and the life of the community. He’s fed us and nourished us at this sacred table each week. He’s forgiven us and healed us and consoled us time and time again. And most importantly --- he has won a great victory for us through his death and resurrection --- a victory which holds out the promise for each of us to be united with him for all eternity.
So next time we feel the need for that pat on the back, look at a cross, maybe one you keep in your pocket or purse, and remember why we believe the things we believe. We give back because God gives back all the time. Let’s learn from the lesson and be the disciples Jesus expects us to be. He sees all, and trust me, he remembers all.
Blessings, Fr. Barry