10 Minute Daily Retreat - Read the Daily Gospel with a prayerful heart.
By Jane Borg (No. 131)
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.
“So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honoured by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
“When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men.
Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
“Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you."
Alms giving, prayer and fasting are the traditional works of mercy honoured by the Jews and are still fundamental to our faith today. Jesus was not, and still is not, condemning these practices in themselves. He denounced the grand show that the Pharisees put on to make sure that everyone knew how holy they were.
Once again, Jesus called on the people of his time to recognise why these things are important. We do them to honour God, through showing mercy to others.
We are also transformed internally as we undertake these works of mercy. When we choose to sacrifice out of love, and not to look good in front of others, we are imitating Christ and being slowly transformed into Christ – our eventual goal.
If prayer, giving alms and fasting are not part of our lives, ask God to convict you of the importance of these practices. Pray for the desire to engage in them in a worthy manner.
If these works of mercy are integral to your Christian journey, I encourage you to look deep within and ask:
What is in my heart when I do these things?
Am I doing them for appearance or recognition?
Are my motivations sincere? Am I prompted because of genuine love and devotion to our Lord and God?
This is the challenge of today's reading.
5 minutes: READ the text slowly.
REFLECT on a phrase or word that struck you.
SPEAK to God about your thoughts.
5 minutes: LISTEN to God speak to you.RESPOND with a prayer that feels right for you.
Next Reflection: Malcolm Davies 19th June, 2015