What is your motive? (2/15/21)
We were so happy to see you at our first Mass back on campus yesterday! With Lent beginning on Wednesday, let’s reflect on these words from Matthew 6:
1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 5 And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
This passage is taken from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount in the book of Matthew, where He gives multiple teachings on prayer, almsgiving, fasting, and more. Here, He warns His disciples of giving and praying for the sake of human praise.
Why do we give to the poor? Why do we worship? Is it so others can see us, and know how much of a “good” Christian we are? We are called to live righteously. But when we give alms just to earn approval from other humans, Jesus deems us as hypocrites! Our motive should not be to put on a show, but to give in secret. God knows our hearts, and He sees our efforts to live justly. We need no other praise but God’s.
This is important to remember as we enter Lent. During Lent, we fast, pray, give, and meditate on Jesus’s sacrifice for us. As we sacrifice something for Lent, or add something extra in our prayer life, we do not need to do it for the recognition of others. Of course, we can hold each other accountable in our efforts, but God knows what we do in secret.
How is God shaping you this Lenten season? What is He asking of you? Maybe it is humility, or gratitude, or generosity. Whatever it is, we are all praying for you and wish you the best this season.
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