Daily Meditation: "Be careful not to make a show of your righteousness before people"
Gospel text (Mt 6,1-6.16-18):
Jesus said to his disciples, "Be careful not to make a show of your righteousness before people. If you do so, you do not gain anything from your Father in heaven. When you give something to the poor, do not have it trumpeted before you, as do those who want to be seen in the synagogues and in the streets in order to be praised by the people. I assure you, they have been already paid in full. If you give something to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your gift remains really secret. Your Father who sees what is kept secret, will reward you.
When you pray, do not be like those who want to be seen. They love to stand and pray in the synagogues or on street corners to be seen by everyone. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is with you in secret; and your Father who sees what is kept secret will reward you. When you fast, do not put on a miserable face as do the hypocrites. They put on a gloomy face, so people can see they are fasting. I tell you this: they have paid in full already. When you fast, wash your face and make yourself look cheerful, because you are not fasting for appearances or for people, but for your Father who sees beyond appearances. And your Father, who sees what is kept secret will reward you".
"Be careful not to make a show of your righteousness before people"
Today we start our itinerary towards Easter, and the Gospel reminds us of the fundamental Christian duties, not only as a preparation for the liturgical time, but also as a preparation for the Eternal Easter: "Be careful not to make a show of your righteousness before people. If you do so, you do not gain anything from your Father in heaven" (Mt 6:1). The righteousness Jesus speaks about is made up of our living according to the evangelic convictions, without forgetting that "unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven" (Mt 5:20).
Righteousness leads us to love, expressed through our charity and mercy: "If you give something (…), do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing" (Mt 6:2). It does not mean that good deeds should be concealed, but we ought not to think of human praise when doing them, nor should we be looking forward to other superior and heavenly benefits. In other words, when I give alms I should not be thinking I am doing anything especial that deserves a reward from God and applause from men.
Benedict XVI already claimed that helping the needy is a duty of justice, even before an act of charity: "Charity goes beyond justice (…); but it never lacks justice, which prompts us to give the other what is “his”, what is due to him by reason of his being or his acting". We should never forget that we are not the absolute owners of the goods we possess, but only their administrators. Jesus Christ has shown us that the true charity is not that which is limited to “giving” alms, but that which also “offers” our bodies as a living sacrifice to God (cf. Rom 12:1); this would be the true act of Christian righteousness and charity, and "your Father, who sees what is kept secret, will reward you" (Mt 6:4).
Pbro. D. Luis A. GALA Rodríguez
Audio: Ash Wednesday