Gospel: Matthew 6:1-6,16-18
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 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 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 reward 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.
“And your Father, who sees what is kept secret, will reward you.”
The ego is sly; it finds its way into everything, even under the disguise of humility, self-sacrifice, or religious devotion. There is a form of humility that calls attention to itself: “See how humble I am!” There are outward displays of piety that are meant to be seen and noticed. All of these are a form of commerce, a type of transaction with an eye on the reward. The philosopher Simone Weil referred to such transactions as the law of “gravity.” Grace, on the other hand, defies gravity. It contradicts the law that says that every good deed must be matched by some reward.
True humility escapes detection. True religious devotion is directed only to God. True charity is a matter of giving without expectation of return—whether that takes the form of public esteem or the obsequious gratitude of those on the receiving end.
To give without compensation; to pray without expectation of results; to act without the desire to be noticed—all these are forms of detachment. It requires that we focus on the good of the deed itself, the correctness of our attitude, the purity of our intention. To live in this state of consciousness is its own reward.
© Copyright Bible Diary 2019