Do Nothing out of Selfishness

September 27, 2020

Motivation is a great revelation.  How do we recognize selfishness?  How do we recognize vainglory?  St. Paul is pleading in the second reading for us to humbly regard others as more important than ourselves. As we all face new challenges and more schools and groups look into new ways of embracing the world situation we find ourselves in, the challenge remains; what is our motivation?  What is the driving and predominate force that leads us and guides us?  This deep self-searching is a tough roadmap.  Our minds love to justify our actions.  We can easily blur what we see and hear through preconceived ideas.  We can at times judge others’ intentions before they speak.  St. Paul is speaking to us in our time and in our situation.  Humbly regard others as more important than oneself.  Putting others first is a phrase we hear a lot.  Unselfish motivations and actions lead to a more compassionate society, yet the challenge is real and personal for all of us.

In a family, parents are the first to realize that love for a child changes everything.  Marriages that last realize that the admiration of the other that first began in the courtship phase can get swallowed up as time passes.  How we navigate the roadmap of our motivations and how we keep selfishness in check is a popular topic found in articles, books and podcasts.  As a people of faith, we are invited to look into who we are with a different lens.  Jesus is inviting us to raise the dignity of others by seeing them as more important than ourselves.  The dignity follows the actions of Jesus Christ who emptied Himself by dying on the cross, not for selfish reasons or self-fulfillment, but for the sake of each and every one of us.  To live in this place is a spiritual center filled with joy and pain, potential and possibility.  It is a place of emptiness and opportunity.  When I embark on this voyage, I am leaving myself behind, I am separating my motivations and fears, my self-worth and making it all about Christ.  This is a lifelong voyage.  I am not even close to leaving the dock to begin the journey sometimes.  There are times when fear has shaped me, and there are times my own self-worth has been an anchor that is too heavy to lift.  These challenges keep me in the same place, yet when I am able to embrace the needs of another and really listen, I can empty myself just a little more.

What helps us keep the focus?  What is the compass for such a voyage?  St. Paul writes, we are to live lifting up others and spend our time accordingly.  We are to do nothing out of vainglory or selfishness, but allow our motivations to be pure.  We are to empty ourselves in Jesus Christ and Him alone.  Only in prayer, meditation and reflection can we do this.  Only with great pain can we undertake such a courageous voyage.  Salvation was given and won for us; following Jesus to the cross and trusting in the new life won there is to be enough for us.  Can we trust it?  Can we do it?  It all begins with not what we say, but how we do what we do…

Father John Ouper