Intentionality matters. My first semester at Brother Rice High School did not go well academically…I was running cross country, involved in a school play (“Guys and Dolls”) and simply having too much fun. So, knowing that the report card would arrive in the mail on a Tuesday, I went out to the local flower shop and bought my mom a dozen carnations on Monday (and put them in the freezer to preserve them for the next day…I certainly did not know much about flowers!). When my mom came home that Tuesday after work (she was a 2nd grade teacher), I handed her the frost bitten flowers and shortly afterwards, she discovered the mediocre report card. I would like to think that the my intention behind the flowers was a random act of kindness to show well deserved appreciation for my mom’s countless favors and sacrifices…but no, it was done to lessen the blow.
Years later, as a senior in High School, I came home from a Friday night out with my buddies and noticed an unusually dirty kitchen resulting from my parent’s dinner party with their friends. My first thought was to go to bed and let my parents worry about the mess in the morning, but then the Holy Spirit kicked in and insisted that I get it done. So, 15 wine glasses, a pile of pots and pans and other items of fine china were carefully washed (and miraculously not broken), and I went to bed with a clean conscience. My mom still remembers that night with great appreciation, and honestly, I wish there were more examples like this one.
Cheshire, Ct, September 1987. This Bible pictured above was on the small desk outside of my “cell” along with the golden tabs meant to separate the different books of the Bible. I was planning on carefully placing these tabs during my 8 hour flight to Spain the next day. But, after I had gone to bed, a seminarian took my Bible and meticulously placed all of these tabs on the Bible and left it back on my desk before 530 am, without a note or any indication of who had done it. This Bible still has those tabs intact, nearly 30 years later and it took me 10 years to finally discover the name of the seminarian who did this selfless act of charity.
People may not always see what we are “really up to” but Jesus sees everything and he blesses those actions that are done out of love for him and for his greater glory.
Thank you Fr. For reminding me that we should be doing things for others in humility without having to be “thanked” for our actions. God sees all and that is all that matters.
Thank you for your timely message about acts of kindness. As it says in the Prayer for generosity – to labour and not expect any other reward, save that of knowing that I do your will.