June 18, 2008
Wednesday of the eleventh week in ordinary time
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, 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 God, I adore you because you are so great! I adore you in your infinite beauty, love and strength. Help me to believe more firmly. Help me to hope more constantly. Help me to love more passionately in serving you and those around me.
Petition: Father, give me the grace to act always and only according to your will for me.
1. Praise and Gratitude. We all like being noticed and praised, especially if it is in relation to some charitable or noble cause. Just think of the last award or certificate or medal you won. On the other hand, it leaves a bitter taste in our mouth when we aren’t acknowledged, thanked or recognized when we feel we should be: by our children when they don’t notice all the work we do for them, by our parents when they don’t mention that good grade or the clean room, by our friends when we change our plans to accommodate their needs. But Jesus is inviting us to a humbler attitude: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them.”
2. God’s Gratitude. Jesus promises us a much greater reward than a few kind words or a piece of paper or metal: He assures us of Almighty God’s recognition and gratitude. He guarantees us that the Heavenly Father sees every good deed we do and will repay us both in this life and the after life (cf. Luke 18:30). To increase our eternal reward, Christ goes so far as to encourage us to flee human recognition so as to “store up treasures in heaven” (cf. Matthew 6:20).
3. Purity of Intention. More than trying to “get away and hide” every time we wish to do a good deed, Christ is inviting is to purify our intention: to want to do good for the sake of God, to do good for his sake, to offer up our good actions for the glory of his Name. There is a story which relates that one day, while Pope John Paul II was driving through the immense crowds of people cheering and chanting his name, those near him could hear him whispering over and over again, “For you, Lord, for you!”
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, you know how much I like to be noticed and appreciated. You know how miserable I feel when others ignore or neglect me. Help me to be more like you, looking only to do what pleases the Father and hoping only for His recognition.
Resolution: I will offer up one of my activities today for some apostolic intention (e.g. the conversion of sinners, the salvation of souls, the Pope and the Church, etc.).
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