Prudence while doing a lot of good

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

SOME people brought a blind man to Christ, obviously so he could be cured of his blindness. (cfr. Mk 8,22-26) What Christ did was to bring the man to a certain place, and instead of curing him immediately, made him recover his sight after some steps.

“Putting spittle on his eyes he laid his hands on the man and asked, ‘Do you see anything?” Looking up the man replied, “I see people looking like trees and walking.’ Then he laid hands on the man’s eyes a second time and he saw clearly; his sight was restored and he could see everything distinctly.”

Somehow this gospel episode reminds us of a number of things we have to learn to live ourselves. Like Christ, let’s do whatever good we can to people in a way that is discreet, knowing how to pass unnoticed, so as to guarantee the purity of our intention, that is, that everything is done for God’s glory, out of pure goodness, without attracting glory to ourselves.

Another lesson that we can derive from this gospel story is that while doing good to others, let’s to see it that that we avoid developing in them some mentality of total dependency and mendicancy. That would undermine the dignity of the persons concerned. We may not give them what they need immediately, without some effort on their part.

One of the mysterious aspects of the behaviour of Christ was his constant insistence not to be known as some kind of wonder-worker or superhero every time he performed a miracle. He had a kind of obsession to pass unnoticed.

This behaviour somehow contrasted with his open desire to be known and considered by as many people as possible as the Son of God, the Redeemer of mankind.

On one hand, he would always tell the beneficiaries of his miracles not to broadcast what he did. Rather he would instruct them to simply go to the priest and report what happened.

When, out of extreme gratitude, these beneficiaries offered to join him in his journeys, he would tell them to go back home instead. When the hungry people, who were fed to satiety with just a few loaves and fish, wanted to make him king, Christ quickly withdrew to a mountain.

Even after his resurrection, when he was supposed to be in a glorious state, those to whom he showed himself did not recognize him at first. He appeared like anybody else. He obviously did not like to impress and overwhelm people just for the sake of impressing and overwhelming them.

The other thing we have to learn is how to be prudent so that while doing a lot of good we avoid making people spineless beggars and parasite, with a very wrong idea of what is to be responsible for oneself.

This obviously will require a lot of education and formation, often a thankless task that simply has to be carried out. Many of the beggars around have already deep-rooted attitude of mendicancy and dependence. This should not discourage us but rather fuel in us the desire to help them with greater spirit of sacrifice and generosity.

We may have to organize ourselves better, involving both the public and private sectors, to pursue this goal of helping others to help themselves, liberating them from a status that simply is inhuman.