JUNE 16. Ord time B. Wk. 11. Wed. Mt.6. 1-6, 16-18
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Be careful not to parade your good deeds before men to attract their notice; by doing this you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven. So, when you give alms, do not have it trumpeted before you; this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win men’s admiration. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you give alms, your left hand must not know what your right is doing; your almsgiving must be secret, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.
‘And when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites: they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues and at the street corners for people to see them; I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you pray, go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.
‘When you fast do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do: they pull long faces to let men know they are fasting. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that no one will know you are fasting except your Father, who sees all that is done in secret; and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.’
We should all be attentive when the Son of God issues us a “warning”, as what that means is we are all prone to this particular failing; - in this case being motivated by the views of those around us; - and / or seeking human approval.
And we should not rush to absolve ourselves of this failing, as it is very easy to “desire” the approval of others, by “appearing” to be following the teachings of Christ. It is a sobering fact however that the world’s views, and the views of Christ are radically different; - and God has the ability to read our hearts.
And when we ponder this reading we need to note what he is saying; - if we are motivated by the views of those around us: “by doing this you will lose all reward from your Father in Heaven” and if you want to be seen by them then “that will be your reward!”
So, Christ is warning us, in the spiritual life, the motivation for our actions is very important, so we need to have a humble and pure heart, free from any desire to receive the “approval of the world!”
Christ has also given us some sound advice in this area, namely wherever possible we should keep our actions “secret”, so if we find ourselves telling others about virtuous actions, which are not widely known, we need to be asking ourselves “why are we doing this?” as it is a powerful indicator that we are seeking earthly approval!
What Christ is addressing here is the importance of our desires, and how, if we do not remain alert, we will be motivated by a desire for the approval of the world, whereas our only desire, in the spiritual life, should be to do the Father’s Will.
What is required to overcome this danger is the frequent examination of our hearts in order to discover if our motivation is the humble love of God; - or the approval of those around us?
Gospel Acclamation Jn14:23
All who love me will keep my words,
and my Father will love them and we will come to them.