Passing unnoticed and purity of intention

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

IN the gospel, Christ shows us how he always tried to pass unnoticed while doing a lot of good. In one instance, he told a leper whose leprosy he cleansed miraculously, not to tell anybody about the cure but only to the priest. (cfr. Mk 1,40-45) The cleansed leper, of course, could not help it but proclaim to the four winds what happened to him.

That episode is teaching us that if we want to be truly Christian, we have to do a lot of good, with God’s help and our all-out effort, doing it without attracting unnecessary attention. It can only show how our intentions are pure, that is to say, that what we do is simply to give glory to God from whom all good things come, and not to ourselves.

Why did Christ behave in that way? I believe the answer lies in the fact that Christ wants to be known both as God and man, and as our Redeemer, not out of idle curiosity or for merely practical purposes, but really out of faith.

Our usual problem is that our belief in Christ is often corrupted by merely human motives. It’s not faith, but some mixture of idle curiosity and other practical purposes that make us follow him.

And when these idle curiosity and practical purposes would already have their fill, or worse, are not met as expected, then that belief in Christ falls apart. The apostles themselves were not exempt from this phenomenon. Many times, Christ would lament over their lack of faith.

Same with the crowd. Those who welcomed him at his entry to Jerusalem were also those who shouted, “Crucify him” a little later.

Christ wants us to approach him with faith. He wants us to consider the spiritual and supernatural character of his life that should also be reflected in ours. He does not want us to get stuck with his merely material, natural and human aspects.

By learning how to pass unnoticed while doing a lot of good certainly would show how pure our intentions would be. Yes, we have to be most careful in handling our intentions. They play a strategic role in our life, for how and where we direct them would determine whether we want to be with God or simply with our own selves.

Our intentions express who and where in the end we want to be. Do we choose God, or do we simply choose ourselves, or the world in general? It’s actually a choice between good and evil.

Even if we are not aware, or refuse to be aware, of this choice, which is usually the case, the choice between God and us, between good and evil is always made with every human act we do.

We need to realize then that we have to take utmost care of our intention, making it as explicit as possible, and honing it to get engaged with its proper and ultimate object who is God.

We should try our best to shun being simply casual or cavalier about this responsibility. We can easily play around with it, since intentions are almost invariably hidden from public knowledge. We are urged to be most sincere in directing our intentions properly.

We can easily fall into hypocrisy and deception, doing what can appear good externally but is not internally, since we could refuse giving glory to God, which is the proper intention to have, and instead feed and stir our vanity, pride, greed, lust, etc.