“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
When Jesus instructs his disciples on how they are to repent, he gives examples of people who act with pride — even while doing righteous deeds! Our human inclination towards sin can be so subtle, and therefore we must be vigilant to order our motivations with humility.
Temptation towards social benefits, status, and personal prestige perverts acts we know to be pleasing to God: namely giving alms, praying, and fasting.
During the Lenten season, we are called to be attentive to the internal. We are reminded God knows our soul. Our Father sees in secret, sees what is hidden. More so, we are asked during these forty days to be attentive to our soul.
Today – as we mark our foreheads with external signs of faith, we pray for fortitude and prudence. May we work for the greater glory of God earnestly, honestly, and humbly.
—Alan Ratermann is an English teacher and Director of Ignatian Service Programs at Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Missouri.
Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.
—Exhortation when ashes are distributed
Please share the Good Word with your friends!