Piety in Secret

Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-18
2 Kgs 2:1,6-14 / Ps 31:20,21,24

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)

Good deeds that seek a ton of praise
Are only worth an ounce of grace.
Kind acts performed in secrecy
Live on for all eternity.

“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

Charity is the act of giving material assistance to the poor to alleviate their suffering. It is done out of compassion, with the sincere intention of raising the dignity of another human being. It is an artificial act of charity when people donate money because they want to see their names up on the white screen in a fund-raising event. According to our Lord, they have already received their reward.

The television has become a very powerful medium for prayer and evangelization. However, we can observe how ‘modern evangelists’ have turned their prayer assemblies into dramatic presentations like “hypocrites at street corners”. Bible in hand, eyes closed, voice quavering in eloquent prayer, their performances are pure theatrics. And so many who are not guided by the Word of God are easily misled.

There are also those who fast for show. Actually, they are on a diet to reduce their weight. But they say, if one can strive to be slim and pious at the same time, why not tell your friends about it?

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 satisfy their ego. The humble man is content to do his best and nothing more, because he knows God will do the rest. He is content to seek God in quiet moments of prayer and meditation of the Word of God. He is happy and contented in silently doing acts of charity, 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.”

LORD, You have searched me and know 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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