“He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag.” (Jn 12,6)
These words were said of Judas Iscariot when he complained that the precious ointment that a woman used to anoint Christ’s feet could have been sold and the money given to the poor. That’s when Christ told him to “leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” (Jn 12,7-8)
We have to be wary of our tendency to do some virtue signaling that is actually meant to hide some anomaly that we commit. Nowadays, this tendency is getting not only more common in private life, but more so in our public life. It looks like it has become a fixed feature in our world culture.
One source defines virtue signaling as “the action or practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one’s good character or the moral correctness of one’s position on a particular issue.” This is meant, of course, to undercut others who differ or contradict their views.
Another source puts it as “a pejorative neologism for the conspicuous and disingenuous expression of moral values with the intent to enhance one’s own image.” Still another source describes it as taking “a conspicuous but essentially useless action ostensibly to support a good cause but actually to show off how much more moral one is than everybody else.” We should try our best to stay away from virtue signaling.
But even more important than avoiding the vice of virtue signaling is the duty to be most honest in our temporal affairs, especially those involving money and other sources of powers. We have to practice a certain kind of detachment to see to it that our heart is not corrupted by them but is made pure and whole for loving God and everybody else.
This virtue of detachment would definitely require us to have purity of intention and to be most transparent in our transactions and eager to practice total accountability before God and also before everybody else. Without this virtue of detachment, there is no way we can keep ourselves uncorrupted, and that’s when we can be pressured to fall into all forms of cheating, hypocrisy, deception, virtue signaling, etc.
Yes, we need to see to it that our intentions in all our earthly affairs are pure. And that means that we are only driven by love of God and neighbor, that what really and would only interest us is to give glory to God and to contribute to the common good.
We need to convince ourselves that only by doing so can we attain what is truly good for us. We should avoid falling into the trap of the devil who would always tempt us to work only for our own personal interest, suggesting that that is where our true happiness would lie.
And nowadays, that kind of mentality has sadly become common. There is now a great need to dismantle that kind of attitude which definitely would require some self-sacrifice. But again, we have to remember that that is what Christ has told us—that we need to deny ourselves, carry the cross in order to follow him who is our all in all. (cfr. Mt 16,24; 1 Cor 15,28)*