Faith Daily | 16 June 2021
PRAYER of the DAY - PENTECOST APBA p552
we beseech you to keep your family, the Church,
in continual godliness,
that through your protection
it may be free from all adversities,
and devoutly given to serve you in good works,
to the glory of your name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
GOSPEL for the Day: Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-18
‘Beware of practising your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 ‘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. 3But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
5 ‘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. 6But 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.
16 ‘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. 17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18so 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.
GOSPEL Reflection: Contributed by: Angela Back
We are all caught up in the tentacles of our social world. We learn early to do the right thing and to be seen doing it. Obligation plays a big part in some cultures, even our own. And motivations are mixed. Of course, achievement prepares us for life. And learning to live morally is important. However, in the religious life, the need to be seen doing good can tip over into self-righteousness, pride and seeking brownie points from God. In other words, trying to control God. Jesus urged that we not draw attention to our religious practices. If they are worth rewarding He will do so in His own way.
Because there is another way, the way of belonging in relationship with the Spirit of God and Jesus, so that being ‘safe’ does not depend on our performance. Rather, the way of growing in knowing Him, being seen by Him - open to His presence, leads to freedom. We are participants, friends. We sang about this two Sundays ago: ‘Will you let my life be grown in you and you in me.’ The Jesus Way is not the religious way.
Jesus Himself told us more specifically: ‘Take my yoke upon you,’ Matthew 11:28-30. Or as the Message says, ‘Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.’ Eugene Peterson beautifully teases out the meaning of walking, yoked together. All of these verses show how the Master desires to grace us with meaningful life. A far cry from the religious seeking after kudos that the hypocrites espoused. Accepting Jesus’ invitation to walk with Him can lead to wonder and joy, busyness and rest.
FINAL PRAYER: ‘Paradox Blessing’ from “Celtic Daily Prayer”
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers
half-truths, superficial relationships,
so that you will live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice,
oppression and exploitation of people,
so that you will work for justice, equity and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed
for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war,
so that you reach out your hand to comfort them
and change their pain to joy.
And may God bless you the foolishness to think
that you can make a difference in the world,
so that you will do the things which others tell you cannot be done.