Check Yourself

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Illustration by Frank Kacmarcik, OblSB, Saint John’s Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota. Used with permission.

What motivates your actions? This question is difficult to answer because we rarely say, think, or do something on account of a singular reason. Often our motives are mixed, such as when we do something that can assist others but also makes us feel better or garners for us some acclaim or appreciation. 

How we live usually reflects where we place our trust and find our main motivation, and in this the Scriptures encourage us to examine our priorities. Take today’s readings as examples. St. Paul exhorts the community at Philippi to evaluate what motivates them. He challenges them to consider their primary allegiance: Is it the worldly way of thinking or divine wisdom? Their personal interests or that of the Gospel? Their social standing or their standing in heaven? 

Likewise, in the Gospel parable, the “dishonest steward” is motivated principally by fear of losing his job. Jesus seems to acknowledge the incompatibility of these two ways of being in the world, one driven by fear and the other by the Gospel. When we examine our actions and attitudes, what do we find at the heart of them? Earthly prudence inspired by fear or divine wisdom grounded in the Gospel? It is the latter that assures us we belong to the “children of light.” 

© Liturgical Press.

Fr. Daniel Horan

Daniel P. Horan, OFM, is the Dun Scotus Chair of Spirituality at the Catholic Theological Union (Chicago). He is the author of several books, including Reading, Praying, Living Pope Francis’s Rejoice and Be Glad.

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