Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
“Give alms…Pray to your Father…Fast without a gloomy face…” (vv. 2, 5, 16)
I need Lent. I require this season of reflection and repentance, and these are good and salutary ways to serve our neighbor and worship God. I need Lent because I’m unimpressed with my own mortality. On Ash Wednesday we are branded with ashes, as a reminder of our mortal nature, and sent out marked to begin a period of forty days and forty nights where we contemplate our relationship to Christ and the world He came to save.
“When you give to the needy” (v. 3). Jesus never commands us to give to the poor, he just assumes that we will do what we can for others less fortunate. That could be in the form of charitable donations, volunteerism, activism or anything that is intended to serve others. We do what we can.
“Beware of practicing your piety before others” (v. 1). I have a ritual that I perform daily; I walk down Rt. 119 to the Acton Coffee House for a cuppa, as my mother called her morning coffee. On the walk I pray aloud, the Our Father, Psalm 23 and the Hail Mary, then I petition God for assistance for those who need it; I’m sure that those who witness this have no idea that I’m practicing my piety before others.
“Lay up for yourself treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (v. 19)
“When you fast…” Again Jesus doesn’t command us to fast; he assumes that we will as a mechanism to learn what we hunger for. What do you hunger for? I hunger for social justice. I’ve recently become a vegan and have chosen not to eat meat. If more people would focus on helping their fellow man rather than amassing personal wealth this would be a much better world.
Heavenly Father, please send me the Holy Spirit so that I may better understand your will, so that I may be a better servant, a better Christian, a better father and a better friend.