I may not attend mass as regularly as the next Catholic, but there are plenty of lessons I learned from the church. One of the most important lessons, which funny enough may contradict with my profession, is the one written in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament.
Matthew 6:3 reads (according to the King James version of the bible): But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.
Though there are various interpretations to this verse, I align more with those who feel charitable actions should be done without need of potential rewards.
I know there are plenty of ways I could (or should) volunteer or try to make a difference. But the little times that I do, I don’t announce it. I imagine I’m not the only one who abides by that logic. That’s why I refrain from asking “well what have you done lately?” when talking about making a difference. That’s also why I try to warn people not to go that route (like when some call the athletes “entitled” who could be using their millions for good). I don’t ask for “receipts.”
This past weekend, a host of volunteers helped put on Gonzales’ 61st annual Come and Take It Celebration. It can’t be done without the help of all involved. There are names you may recognize up top, they deserve the props. But there are plenty of unnamed volunteers that need some shine too.
In football, there are 11 men on each side of the line of scrimmage. But the names you tend to read in the paper are skill position players, the ones that have stats such as yards, touchdowns, tackles and sacks next to their name. Quarterback Carson Wentz connected with Nelson Agholor on a 72-yard touchdown pass. The names you don’t see? The five offensive linemen that were vital in making that play work.
The unnamed volunteers are the offensive linemen of CTI. Not a lot of glamor or shine, but if you know a bit about football, you know that a team cannot function without them.
Back to that bible verse of not letting the left hand know what the right is doing, I’m put in a particularly tricky situation with my job. When Hurricane Harvey roared through Texas with its devastating winds and rain, I saw many people join together and make a difference. One of my staff reporters, Kathryn Penrose, penned the column “Harvey forced us closer,” talking about her experience during the storm (side note: she wrote that she spent 48 hours “amazed and sharing in pure love.” What she didn’t write was the amount of hours she spent volunteering those few weeks, making a difference in our community. Because, you know, left hand, right hand.)
We ran contributed photos of folks who were gathering supplies for those affected at the gulf. As a man who works for the newspaper, I obviously welcomed the content. As a Catholic who believes in Matthew 6:3, admittedly I initially felt uneasy about the influx of shared photos. But at the end of the day, I’ve made the choice to just accept all charitable acts, no matter the intent of the charitable person. I’ll deal with the whole left hand, right hand thing myself. Doesn’t matter to me if “thy left hand” knows what “thy right hand doeth.” I’m merely concerned with the “thou doest alms” part of the verse.