Gospel Mt 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, 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." The Gospel of the Lord.
"Do not be like the hypocrites"...three references are made to them as a warning in the practice of almsgiving, prayer and fasting.
Why? For the hypocrites it's all vainglorious show that says "look at me" instead of "I'm looking at God". 'The best, the biggest, the greatest' are words that constantly pour out from their mouth. How many times can you abuse the letter 'I' with incessant repetition?
We have to allow our Lenten works of prayer, fasting and almsgiving be secret between God and us. He sees in secret and he sees all; he is not fooled or impressed by our words or empty show. God cannot be conned, people can easily be.
Lenten works are for the salvation of our souls not the stoking of our egos.
As we begin this journey together let us humbly recognize through the ashes that we are dust and to dust we shall return. Peace.
The Season of Lent is a special time for us to slow down, look inward and make the necessary changes to truly become an Easter people.