Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

The gospel admonition that we are not to let our left hand know what our right hand is doing provides a paraphrase of today’s gospel. Jesus reprimands those who seek honors, recalling that dignities received often are the first step in separating and tearing apart the fabric of the human community. So often we are placed in difficult situations when the well-being of an organization or development of a program is based on publicity. Instead of the left hand being ignorant of the right hand’s activity, in most cases the left hand holds a video camera to document every act the right hand is doing. And yet the gospel does ask that our light should be put on a stand for all to see. Of course, the solution to this apparent contradiction may rest in answering the question what exactly is being illumined. Or, to phrase the question in a grammatical context, who is the subject of the sentence?  In the missionary reports of the Jesuits during the first centuries of the order’s existence, credit always went to God when a success was achieved and sinful human behavior provided the reason for failure. Although these literary devices may not pass muster today, they do point to an important tendency of the early Jesuits to give Glory to God, who in turn returns that glory to us in the love of his son’s Sacred Heart.

November 5th, 2017