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.”
Jesus teaches us to live our lives fully and to look at them differently. In truth, it is not a question of prayer or an act before men, but simply a question of being true to our daily lives.
He tells us again, that everything is before God's eyes. He is active and sees our interiority. A God who accompanies us is already a consolation. Simply believe in his presence and live your life free and be just before God.
Action of the Day: Remain connected with God.
“Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them”
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 honor: 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 beloved Son, with whom 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, “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father” (Mt 6:1). How could we please God if our first intention is trying to be seen in order to be praised 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).