June 18, 2014

The Gospel Today 

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 others to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

Reflection (Sem. Alfredo Dimaano):

   Jesus warns us of becoming self-righteous when we perform acts or worship, penance, or sacrifices. In a world where media rules, everybody wants to have his own share of the stage and wants to be on the limelight. When we help or do just any act of goodwill, we must not seek for affirmation and recognition or for people to perceive us to be holy. What motivates us from doing good?

     I applaud the efforts of groups that promote the “anti-epal” law that intends to stop the relentless self-advertisement of candidates, while using the taxpayers’ money for self-gain. ‘Epal’ is a colloquial word that stems from “pag-papel” or wanting to be noticed for personal gain such as to be preferred, have one’s image enhanced, get promoted, etc.

   There is wisdom and holiness in doing good deeds discreetly: it purifies our intentions, saves us from being humbug, delivers us from self-righteousness. If we think about it, we really cannot boast of anything. God remains the same Almighty God even if we do good things; they do not add to His being Lord because He is complete and perfect in Himself. So there is no point in proving to God our worth. What He asks of us is to be faithful to Him, and to imitate Him who is meek and humble of heart. He could have boasted that He is the Son of God when He was crucified but He did not. He could have told us right before our face that He died for us so we must all recognize Him to be our God but He did not. He could have stolen the scene and acted like the protagonist, proud with His achievement when He was resurrected. But He did not.

     Let Him be our model as we ask ourselves: Am I doing the things that I do because the spotlight is on me or will I still be doing such good things even if I am unseen by others?

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