This is, of course, a common phenomenon. When we do good, we will attract more customers and favor-seekers. When we give some favors to some people, there is always a tendency that more people will come begging for the same favors. We need to be prepared to complicate our life.
This was classically illustrated in that gospel episode where Christ went to Gennesaret, and once the people recognized him, they immediately brought their sick, begging Christ to heal them. (cfr. Mk 6,53-56) The people must already have heard of the many miracles Christ performed, and so they pursued him wherever he went.
It’s always good to do good as much as we can. We just have to make sure that we also do it with a certain prudence, otherwise we might be spoiling people and end ourselves bankrupt, reduced to a miserable state that would need help from others.
Doing good with prudence is compatible with giving ourselves to others wholeheartedly. True prudence does not undermine charity. It would make sure that charity will go all the way. It helps sustain charity to the end.
We can only persevere in doing good with prudence when everything that we do in charity is done always with Christ in mind and in our heart. We should follow his example. Yes, he was compassionate with everyone, but he also saw to it that he had time to separate himself from the crowd in order to pray and to have some intimate time with the apostles and disciples, teaching them things and clarifying certain issues. He also refused to stay too long in a place in order to go to other places.
Let’s make sure that our prudence is not a mask for getting attached to the things of this world. Christ wants us to be detached completely from the things of this world, but such detachment is not so much a matter of how much we have or do not have in possession as of a spiritual detachment from the things of this world.
We can be a millionaire or a billionaire and still be detached from the things of this world. We should not be afraid to be rich in material things as long as we are detached from them, showing such detachment by being completely generous to the needs of the others and in giving glory to God in the end.
This will require a certain discipline, of course, given the obvious fact that we have the tendency to get attached to the things of this world. In this regard, we should clearly etch in our mind and heart the words of Christ who said that if we want to follow him, we should deny ourselves and carry the cross. (cfr. Mt 16,24) These are clear signs of detachment.
Everyday, let us examine our conscience to see if our charity which should go all the way is also done with prudence. It’s a tricky combination to make. Thus, we truly need to study things well and to pray hard, asking for grace and light from God so we can be properly guided.
There will always be difficult decisions to make, but as long as we make those decisions in God’s presence, everything will always work out for the good, even if in the short run, some mistakes or miscalculations may be committed.
We should also be ready for this possibility, and assume the Christian spirit of sportsmanship, where we can continue to move on, ever hopeful and cheerful, despite certain mistakes and defeats along the way.*