Jesus said to his disciples, «Be careful not to make a show of your righteousness before people. If you do so, you do not gain anything from your Father in heaven. When you give something to the poor, do not have it trumpeted before you, as do those who want to be seen in the synagogues and in the streets in order to be praised by the people. I assure you, they have been already paid in full. If you give something to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your gift remains really secret. Your Father who sees what is kept secret, will reward you.
»When you pray, do not be like those who want to be seen. They love to stand and pray in the synagogues or on street corners to be seen by everyone. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is with you in secret; and your Father who sees what is kept secret will reward you.
»When you fast, do not put on a miserable face as do the hypocrites. They put on a gloomy face, so people can see they are fasting. I tell you this: they have been paid in full already. When you fast, wash your face and make yourself look cheerful, because you are not fasting for appearance or for people, but for your Father who sees beyond appearances. And your Father, who sees what is kept secret will reward you».
Human being gives lot of attention about appearance without realising the truth about ‘being’. It is in knowing what we are and realising our strengths and limits that we can advance in life. The more we put mask and hide, the more we loose our inner peace and joy. For some, knowing the inner being is quite frightening, because they are afraid to know themselves and they don’t have the courage to see the truth. Jesus is reminding us that there is SOMEONE who knows about us. Before Him, we should learn to be simple and humble.
If our life is connected to Him and if we are just before Him, then there is no need for appearance. Everything is clear before us and before God. It is in this openness that we will be able to see God and His works in us. Though sharing, praying and fasting are important elements of our spiritual life, it is important to justify why we do it, how we do it and before God, what is the consequence?
Daily Quote from the early church fathers:
Pray with the angels, by John Chrysostom, 547-407 A.D.
"When you pray, it is as if you were entering into a palace - not a palace on earth, but far more awesome, a palace in heaven. When you enter there, you do so with complete attentiveness and fitting respect. For in the houses of kings all turmoil is set aside, and silence reigns. Yet here you are being joined by choirs of angels. You are in communion with archangels and singing with the seraphim, who sing with great awe their spiritual hymns and sacred songs to God, the Lord of all. So when you are praying, mingle with these voices, patterning yourself according to their mystical order. It is not to human beings that you are praying but to God, who is present everywhere, who hears even before you speak and who knows already the secrets of the heart. If you pray to this One, you shall receive a great reward. 'For your Father who sees in secret shall reward you openly.' He did not merely say he would give it to you but reward you, as if he himself had made a pledge to you and so honored you with a great honor. Because God himself is hidden, your prayer should be hidden." (excerpt from THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, HOMILY 19.3)
«Be careful not to make a show of your righteousness before people»
Fr. Antoni CAROL i Hostench
(Sant Cugat del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain)
Today, Jesus invites us to act always for the glory of God, to please the Father, as this is why we have been created for. This is how the Catechism of the Church confirms it: «God created everything for man, but man in turn was created to serve and love and to offer all creation back to him». This is the meaning of our life and our honour: to be liked by the Father, to please God. This is the example Christ left with us. If only the Father could give for each one of us the same testimony as He gave for his Son in the moment of his baptism: «This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased» (Mt 3:17).
Dishonesty of intention would be especially grave and ridiculous if happening in actions such as prayer, fasting or alms, as these are pious and charitable deeds, that is, deeds that —per se— are due to the virtue of religion or deeds we carry out for the love of God.
Therefore, «be careful not to make a show of your righteousness before people. If you do so, you do not gain anything from your Father in heaven» (Mt 6:1). How could we please God if, to start with, we are trying to be seen in order to be praised —first of all— by others? It is not that we have to hide from our fellow men so that they will not see us, but it is rather a question, in the first place, of directly addressing our good deeds to God. It does not matter, nor is it bad others may see us: on the contrary, we may give them example with the coherent testimony of our deeds.
But what it does matter —and a lot!— is that we can see God behind our deeds. We must, therefore, carefully examine our true intentions in whatever we are doing, and see that we are not seeking our own interest, if we are really trying to serve the Lord» (St. Gregory the Great).