February 22 2023 Gospel Reading and Reflection

2/22/2023 (Wednesday) Today’s gospel reading: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Jesus said to his disciples:
1 “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
2 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.
3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
4 so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
5 “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.
6 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.
16 “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.
17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
18 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.”

2/22/2023 (Wednesday) Today’s gospel reflection: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Some people feel a lot better when they are admired. So they behave in such a manner as to make other people clap their hands for them. To a certain degree, it is normal to be good in the eyes of others. Yet if we go to the extent of pretending to be good in order to attract the friendship of others and to gain their respect and admiration, then we are nothing but superficial beings. When we become concerned about ourselves more than anything, we lose the essence of service. Not only that, people will soon notice our pretentious attitude and leave us in the cold. Much more than that, we detach ourselves from God. That is the price of being self-centered.

In the gospel reading above, Jesus is inviting us to have a second look at our behavior and motivations. Why do we pray? Why do we fast and give alms? If we do these righteous deeds for the sake of pleasing others and thereby please ourselves, we become unrighteous. Instead, let love of God and love of others be our only guide and motivation.

As we continue with our journey into His kingdom, let us allow Jesus to teach us how to make our choices pleasing to Him. Let us allow His words to challenge us daily to pray, fast and give alms for no other reason but to make us holy as our heavenly Father is holy (Leviticus 11:44-45).

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