We call the teachings of Jesus that are found in chapters 5-7 of Matthew, Sermon on the Mount. It expresses the essence of Christianity. In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches us about purity of intention. Our religious practices like almsgiving, prayer, and fasting must be done single-heartedly to serve God, and not as means of self-promotion by attracting recognition by others. It must be remembered that what we do is not a matter of what we do for God, but of what God does for us. We cannot reward ourselves for every single good that we do. Instead, “your Father who sees in secret will repay you” (v 4, 6).
God’s reward never comes to one who seeks it in the wrong place and by the wrong means. What is shown to impress people remains in the world. The reward is fast but is meaningless in the eyes of God. What is done for the sake of what is eternal goes to eternal life. The reward is not immediate but will be given by the Father who sees in secret. A person who loves does things for the sheer joy of doing something meaningful for the one s/he loves. The last thing that enters her/ his mind is that s/he will earn a reward for what s/he did.
GOSPEL • MATTHEW 6:1-6, 16-18
Jesus said to his disciples: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18so that you may not appear to others to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”
SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2021,” ST. PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 632-895-9701; Fax 632-895-7328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.