February 22, 2012
to the podcast version here.
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 hand is doing, so that
your almsgiving may be in 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 into
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 be fasting. Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint
your head and wash your face, so that you may
not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who
is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden
will repay you.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord, you know how much I need you
and depend on you. You know my weakness and my
faults. I put all my confidence in your love and
mercy in my daily actions. I hope to learn to
trust more in your power, your promise, and your grace.
Lord, I wish to start this season of Lent with
a sincere desire to grow in love, preparing myself worthily
to celebrate the mysteries of your passion, death and resurrection.
Petition: Lord, help
me learn to change what needs to change in my
Fasting, Almsgiving: As we begin the Lenten season, we are
reminded of the need to make reparation for our sins
and be reconciled with God. Any attempt to build a
spiritual life that neglects the pillars of prayer, fasting and
almsgiving is building on sand. Prayer purifies our intentions and
relates all we do to God. Fasting detaches us from
our comfort and from ourselves. Almsgiving reflects our brotherhood with
the poor of Jesus’ family and reminds us that our
true wealth is not in things, but in the love
of God. We all need to do a reality check
on our spiritual lives to make sure we are committed
to prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
2. Lose the Show: Jesus is severe
in criticizing the hypocrites who parade their works before others
to get attention. Such parades are of no use in
pleasing God or making up for our sins; they only
add to our sinfulness. He encourages us to pray in
private, to fast and give alms in secret, without calling
the attention of others to what we are doing. In
this way we can be sure we are doing all
for love of God and not for love of self.
Those who make an outward show of piety or generosity
“have already received their reward” in this world, and they
store up no treasure in heaven. Let us work silently
and discreetly, with no other intention but pleasing God alone.
Sacrifice: Nothing brings us closer to Christ than walking alongside
him and doing the things he did for love of
God the Father. During Lent, God invites us to purify
our hearts and minds and to turn our intentions back
to him. Christ’s public ministry was lived each day in
loving obedience to the Father’s will. Our Lenten program should
reflect that same simple, yet demanding, obedience and love. What
can I do for God today? What sacrifice can I
offer that will be pleasing to him? Once I decide
on it, I will carry it out with no one
Conversation with Christ: Jesus, give me the grace to begin
this Lent with great enthusiasm and love. Help me live
it with joy, knowing that I am living it in
your presence to please you and you alone.
Resolution: I will make a
Lenten program of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.