Ash Wednesday Gospel (Matthew 6:1-6,16-18):
'Jesus said to his disciples:
‘Be careful not to parade your good deeds before men to attract their notice; by doing this you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give alms, do not have it trumpeted before you; this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win men’s admiration. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you give alms, your left hand must not know what your right is doing; your almsgiving must be secret, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.
‘And when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites: they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues and at the street corners for people to see them; I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you pray, go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.
‘When you fast do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do: they pull long faces to let men know they are fasting. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that no one will know you are fasting except your Father who sees all that is done in secret; and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.’'
Perform your good deeds secretly and with humility.
Pray secretly and with humility.
Fast secretly and with humility.
There is a common theme in today's Gospel!
Jesus has, in effect, given us a set of instructions for our Lenten journey. And although these instructions are very relevant for us throughout the rest of the year, Ash Wednesday serves as a very timely reminder that we must always be humble in our faith and that we must take care not to 'show off' at any time.
Lent is not about you and your great accomplishments. It is about God using those accomplishments for the greater good. Whether it be giving up chocolate or committing to daily Mass, we offer these sacrifices and good deeds and intentions to God for Him to use as He sees fit. And all the while we are building our relationship with Jesus, seeking his help along the way. It is a great opportunity to get to know Jesus better.
And remember, everything you do is seen by God. Don't worry about receiving praise from others. God is the only one who matters. His praise is valued a million times more than any praise that can be given to you here on earth.
Scots Catholic wishes all our readers a humble Ash Wednesday and a blessed Lent.