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Hidden Acts of Kindness
Memorial of Saint Pius X, Pope
Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’ As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, today I place myself in your presence and I ask you to open my heart so that I can let your word penetrate more deeply. In this meditation, I want to conform my life to your Gospel, to your ideal for me. I want to overcome my own pharisaical attitudes, and take on the attitudes of your kingdom. Let me approach the Scriptures with humility, so that I can change what needs to be changed. Let these words be the nourishment I need to be able to grow and mature spiritually, to let go of my childish ways of seeing the world.
- Not Lifting a Finger: We want to be the kind of people who lift our fingers to help others with their burdens, right? We must, therefore, learn to be with others, to feel with them, to put ourselves in their shoes so that we can understand what their burdens feel like. Our hearts need to feel real empathy. We are Pharisees when we look upon others’ sins or lack of faith and judge them. We are Christs for others when we put judgment of others aside, pray for them, listen to them, accompany them, and strive to lift their burdens.
- Works to Be Seen: People who do works to be seen are pharisaical. There is no room for these kinds of people in the kingdom of God. When we strive to impress those around us or, worse yet, prove that we are better than they are, we are enslaved by sin. By contrast, when we are able to serve another person in a hidden way, it keeps our love for God something truly personal and intimate—just between God and us. As this intimacy with Christ fills our hearts, he can free us from the desire to be seen by others.
- The Greatest Is a Servant to Others: How many opportunities we have each day to be the least, and the servant of others! Day after day we find ourselves disgruntled because of a terse discussion, because someone doesn’t respect our opinion, or because they think they know more than we do. We feel belittled in some way. The injustice can hurt, but Christ invites us to offer these moments as a fragrant gift to him, which will strengthen us to be humble servants to others.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, take away my proud spirit. Help me to be a servant of others. Help me to let go of the opinions of myself that drive me to want to be at the top and be seen by others. Help me to live only for you. I know you see me.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will do a hidden act of service for someone.
For Further Reflection: “Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God” (Ephesians 5:2).
Father Adam Zettel, LC, was ordained in 2017 and since then has been working as a high school chaplain in Dallas, Texas. During his years of formation and as a priest, he has worked extensively with youth and offers constant pastoral care to families.