Jesus said to his disciples:
"Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
"When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
"When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”
Today is the beginning of Lent. Our family read the Gospel reading and discussed what we thought Jesus wanted us to learn from this passage.
My husband said that we live in a world that likes recognizing everyone. How? There are participation trophies for just about everything. Our children grew up receiving participation trophies for swimming at the end of the season, they received trophies for participating in the reading program at the library, and they even received participation trophies for all of the YMCA sports that they played.
The girls said they remember them. There were times they would ask, “So why am I getting a trophy?” They knew they didn’t do anything special to receive those trophies. One year, we boxed up all the trophies and gave them away. In this Gospel passage, we discussed how Jesus wants us to be genuine. Jesus wants our hearts to be pure. Always look at ourselves and asking why we are doing what we are doing?
I personally think this is a necessary reading to help us grow spiritually, and a really good one to start the Lenten season. During Lent we take stock of where we are are in our Christian faith and often do acts of charity for others or make a sacrifice by giving something up. We should be mindful to do this out of love rather than duty. This is why Jesus stresses these actions should be between us and God rather than in a public display. We live in a world of self gratification and the “why” we do almsgiving is as important as the actual action of doing it.
May God bless us all!