Daily Reflection – 2/23/2023
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 others to be
fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is
hidden will repay you.” (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18)
Jesus speaks to His disciples about four activities of the Christian
life, righteous living, giving, prayer and fasting. I think we can all agree
that these are things that we should do on a consistent basis.
More than the activity itself, Jesus is highlighting the motivation
behind our actions. It is not enough just to do the right thing; we must do the
right things for the right reasons.
Our humanness makes us a prideful people. It is so easy to do things to
be seen by others or to let our piety be noticed and extolled by others.
But as people created by God, we are saved by the grace of God, . If we
take that to our hearts, then our motivation for everything we do should be one
of gratitude. We are spiritual for God not people. We serve to please God not
to get recognition. We can bluff a human audience and people will think we are
genuine. They watch us give, pray, serve and they say “Wow, here is a committed
Christian!” We see that in ministry far too frequently. I pray often for a
person in one of my previous parishes. He did everything “right” when he came
to Church. Clothing, sweet words, pious acts. But he had sinned grievously in
his life and never sought to reconcile with God.
But when we are bluffing, God is
not fooled. God can see right through our fake modesty and generosity, through
our spiritual showiness. What God desires is honesty, integrity, heart-felt
commitment. God desires generosity, conversation, and spiritual practices that
flow from our deep commitment to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and
What Jesus teaches in today’s Gospel lesson is that if we worry about
how other people see us, then the greatest reward we can ever hope to receive
is their admiration. But if we focus, instead, on how God sees us; if we base
our sense of self on this One who is less interested, frankly, in the actions
we take, and more interested in the character of our hearts; if that is most
important to us, then the reward we receive will be a living and growing
relationship with this One, who knows the secret thoughts of our hearts, but
who, at the same time, loves us enough even to die for us.
The key to this passage, really, is Jesus’ final advice for us in
today’s Bible passage: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be
also.” We try to live, pray and act as a follower of Christ because the
greatest, most enduring treasure we will ever be given is a relationship with
this God who knows us, who loves us, who forgives us, and who has given us
promises that will outlast even our own deaths.
There is no greater treasure. We can live that treasure if we put our
pride and attachment to worldly things aside. All we need is to seek Him and His will in all we do.
Prayer of The Day
Jesus, give me a lively faith, a firm hope, a fervent charity, and a great love
for you. Take from me away from being lukewarm when I am meditating on your
word, and away from dullness in prayer. Give me fervor and delight in thinking
of you and your grace. Fill my heart with compassion for others, especially
those in need, that I may respond with generosity.
The Lord rewards those who seek him with humble and repentant hearts. He
renews us each day and he gives us new hearts of love and compassion so that we
may serve him and our neighbor with glad and generous hearts.