Faith Daily | 22 February 2023
PRAYER of the DAY - THE FIRST DAY OF LENT APBA p481
Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made,
and you forgive the sins of all who are penitent:
create and make in us new and contrite hearts,
that we, worthily lamenting our sins,
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may obtain of you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
GOSPEL for the Day: Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-21
‘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.
19 ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust* consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
GOSPEL REFLECTION: Mary Dean
What a stark reminder these verses are to me, and to all of us – and a wake up call – as to what our real motives might be in leading a Christian life. Belonging to a Christian community is wonderful for the support, and the knowledge that we have a comfort zone of like minded people around us. But can this lead us to do and say things at times purely because we think it is expected of us, rather than coming from a close relationship with our heavenly father?
This passage reminds us that there is no righteousness in doing the right things for the wrong reasons! Are we doing and saying good and helpful things purely motivated by the approval we hope to get from others? – unfortunately, we are reminded that this is not what God rewards. He sees our innermost thoughts and knows our hearts. Whatever we do to help those in need – our actions, our giving, our prayers – we are told should be done without show or expectation that others will be impressed and so think highly of us. In Aussie language, we need to be “true blue”!
Jesus teaches us that God rewards deeds motivated by sincere devotion to Him, not by approval from other people. He desires us to be simple, true and authentic. Our motives for what we do and say should always be to bring glory to God, not to ourselves.
Verse 16 is so positive….”your light must shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.
Our prayer can be the chorus so many of us will remember from Sunday School –
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine
Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m gonna let it shine….
Don’t let Satan blow it out, I’m gonna let it shine….
Let it shine ‘till Jesus comes, I’m gonna let it shine…