God Rewards Secret Deeds

Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-18
2 Cor 9:6-11 / Ps 31

Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
(Matthew 6:1)

The righteousness of every act
Comes from the grace of God above;
In all good things we shall not lack,
As we share humbly in His love.

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:1-6,16-18)

Reflection

Some say it is difficult to be humble because the penchant for recognition is really just human nature. Just as we praise others for their good deeds or noble traits, we also want others to know what we see as commendable in ourselves. But it is the man who has grown in wisdom through God’s grace who does not seek the praise of others. Knowing that his good deeds are pleasing in the eyes of God is enough for him. The good that he does is the consequence of his gratitude to Divine Providence because he has already received his reward. As St. Paul wrote in the first reading, “God Who provides the sower with seed will also provide him with the bread he eats. He will multiply the seed for you and also increase the interests of your good works. Become rich in every way, and give abundantly.” (2Cor.9:10-11)

Those who seek human praise will become addicted to such adulation because they are feeding the voracious appetites of vanity and pride. They will never be satisfied, and will always be under the stress of craving for more attention and recognition to sustain their ego’s hunger. The humble man is content to do his best and nothing more, because he believes God will take care of the rest. He who does not seek the praises of men is happy and contented in silently doing God’s will for him, knowing that in the end he will receive his reward when he hears the Father tell him, “Well done, good and faithful servant, come and enjoy the fruits of your labor in My kingdom.”

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus mentions the word “secret” six times. Almsgiving, prayer and fasting: three activities that should be performed in secret if done for the purpose of self-sanctification. Otherwise, it is self-glorification, without any hope for eternal reward.

LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit and when I stand; You understand my thoughts from far away. You observe my travels and my rest; You are aware of all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, You know all about it, LORD. (Psa 139:1-4) Grant that everything I think, say and do are for Your eyes alone. Amen.

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