Gospel: Mt 6:1-6, 16-18
Jesus said to his disciples, “Be careful not to make a show of your good deeds 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 noticed in the synagogues and in the streets, in order to be praised by people. I assure you, they have their reward.
“If you give something to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that our 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 noticed. They love to stand and pray in the synagogues or on street corners, in order to be seen by everyone. I assure you, they have their reward. 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 re ward you.
“When you fast, do not put on a miserable face, as do the hypocrites. They put on a gloomy face, so that 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 appearances or for people, but for your Father, who sees beyond appearances. And your Father, who sees what is kept secret, will reward you.“
Return to the Lord
“Hiram sa Diyos ang aking buhay“ is a title of a beautiful song that reminds us of a fundamental truth. The period of “LENT“ is a good time to remember this truth. When, therefore, we receive the ashes today the priest tells us “Remember man that you are dust and to dust you shall return.“ Life has been “lent“ to us, and we are one day to return that life to the Author of all Life, God!
When we do return that “hiram na buhay“ we have to return it with “interest,“ that is, with “value added“ in the form of good we have done. In our Judaic tradition that takes the form of our classic Lenten practices–prayer, almsgiving, and sacrifice. This Lenten season is precisely a season of grace because with these Lenten practices we make God central of our lives, we remember the poor, and we make atonement for our sins.
May this season of grace be truly for us all the occasion for a “pagbabalik loob sa Diyos“ as we spend more time, not in shopping but in praying, more time spending for the poor and the needy than for our own comfort and leisure, and more time fasting rather than feasting!