Your Father, Who Sees in Secret, Will Repay You

Dear brothers and sisters, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).

Jesus Instructs His Disciples

In the gospel reading of today, Jesus gave His disciples directives about performing righteous deeds. Righteous deeds here are all-encompassing. The foremost directive is “take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them.” The problem is not about people seeing our righteous deeds, as there are situations where it is absolutely impossible to prevent that from happening. However, there is an act of intentionality inherent in the statement of our Lord Jesus Christ. I believe that intentionality makes our righteous deed a true act desirable for God or an act made for self-serving.

What are our reasons, intentions, and purposes for doing our various righteous acts, charity or almsgiving, praying, fasting, and other good works? Jesus Christ directs that we do all these good works with the glory of God as our primary intention and objective. They should not be done for self-serving or for the sole aim of receiving accolades, which characterizes most of the philanthropic actions of some individuals. Thus, there is no need to blow our trumpet for the good works we do.

Giving Alms in Secret

About giving alms, Jesus Christ said, “do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret.” This seems to be a very difficult proposition. In its literal sense, it is almost impossible. I believe Christ’s statement here should not be read or taken literally. Instead, the didactic purpose of the statement should be appreciated and applied in our daily undertakings. What message does Jesus Christ want to pass across? In the context of his teaching, He wants us not to broadcast or make a public show of our almsgiving for whatever reason.

We should not give alms with the purpose of publicity in mind. Jesus Christ wants us to give not for our selfish interest or self-glory but for the glory of God. Our almsgiving should be seen as a giving back to God, an appreciation to God for the much He gave us. It is an act of gratitude to God, and that is why it should not be trumpeted. Trumpeting our almsgiving is the problem, and it is condemnable. It is taken to be done in secret when it is done without trumpeting or making a show-off. And God, who sees what is done in secret, rewards us.

Praying and Fasting in Secret

Jesus Christ tells us, “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, and when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.” Who are the hypocrites? They live a pretentious, double, holier-than-thou, and inauthentic life. Thus, they wear a facade and put up false appearances and impressions of themselves. Hypocrites are actors, and they put up a show only for people to see. Jesus Christ warns us not to be like them.

Our spiritual life must be genuinely true, with the sole aim of building and improving our relationship with God. Spirituality is an authentic way of life. It is neither a show business nor acting out a scenario. Therefore, our fasting and prayer life should be authentic in every intent and purpose. Unfortunately, people put up an act on these religious experiences for people to see to praise and acclaim them. Such an attitude is against the teaching of Jesus Christ. Let us remind ourselves always to fast and pray to God, who is in secret, that he might see our true hearts’ intentions and reward us.

Always remember that Jesus loves you!

[Readings: 2 Kgs 2:1, 6-14; Mt 6:1-6, 16-18]

Fr. Sylvanus Amaobi

Fr. Sylvanus Ifeanyi Amaobi is from Nkume in Imo State of Nigeria. He is the second Child of a family of seven, three males and four females to Mr. Sylvanus U. Amaobi and Late Mrs Veronica C. Amaobi. He is the Pastor of St. Cecilia Catholic Church, Claremore Oklahoma in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA. Email address: amasylva@yahoo.co.uk. Phone numbers: Office, 9183412343.

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