Father Sees All

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 others to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”(Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18)

Scripture Study

6:2 give alms: Charitable gifts given to the poor (Sir 17:22; Lk 3:11; CCC 2447). hypocrites: Refers to “actors” or “stage players”. Jesus may have certain scribes and Pharisees in mind (cf. 23:5, 27–28) who perform outward devotions to be seen and praised by men. The exercise of one’s faith can be public, so long as it flows from proper intentions (5:16).

6:6 in secret: Private prayer stands in contrast to the false piety of hypocrites. It was Jesus’ own custom to withdraw from the public and pray alone to the Father (14:23; Mk 1:35; Lk 9:18). Private prayer is a complement to communal prayer, not a rejection of it (cf. 18:20; Acts 1:12–14; CCC 2602, 2655).

6:17 anoint your head: Fasting was often a public practice accompanied by wearing sackcloth and putting ashes on one’s head (Esther 4:3; Dan 9:3). While it was intended to express inner repentance, hypocrites utilized it to appear devout. Washing and anointing outwardly symbolize happiness and disguise one’s inner commitment to God (Ruth 3:3; Ps 23:5; Is 61:3; CCC 1438).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, todays Gospel prescribes the disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. I want to speak about the Biblical principle behind almsgiving. I know I’ve quoted to you before some of the breathtaking remarks of saints and Popes. For example, Pope Leo XIII said, “once the demands of necessity and propriety have been met, the rest of your money belongs to the poor.” St. John Chrysostom said—and St. Ambrose echoed him—“For the man who has two shirts in his closet, one belongs to him; the other belongs to the man who has no shirt.” These ideas are, of course, rooted in the Biblical prophets, who continually rail against those who are indifferent to the poor.

Compassion is key to Christian ethics, learning to suffer with and feel with the other. We’re not dealing with an abstract Aristotelian moral philosophy, but rather with something more visceral.

This is precisely why the two great commandments are so tightly linked: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart…and love your neighbor as yourself.” In loving God, you feel the feelings of God, and God is compassionate to the poor and oppressed. That’s all the argument that a Biblical person needs.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.