Good Deeds in Secret

Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-18
2 Cor 9:6-11 / Psa 112

…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.
(Matthew 6:6)

Remind me, Lord, lest I grow proud
That all my good deeds come from You,
That it’s Your Spirit Who allowed
The blessings that are passing through.

“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

In today’s Gospel, our Lord mentions the word “secret” six times. Almsgiving, prayer and fasting: three activities that should be performed in secret if done for the purpose of sanctification. Otherwise, it would be self-glorification, without any hope of eternal reward. Jesus, however, was not discouraging acts of piety or devotion in places of worship, as long as they are not done for the purpose of appearing pious to other people. They can still be done “in secret” when we are not conscious of other people around us, but are totally focused on God alone. Even in public, it is so nice to hear a spontaneous prayer said in humble supplication, simply asking God to take care of all the members and their loved ones. Praying for others is always pleasing to HIM, as well as to everyone else who listens and shares in the prayer.

Some say it is hard to do good in secret because the desire for recognition is really part of 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 become addicted to such adulation because they are feeding the voracious appetites of vanity and pride. 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 your reward in My kingdom.”

As You have given us the precious things in this life, and even humbled Yourself on the cross that we may be saved, so may we also humbly share with others. Amen.

Comments are closed.