In the Gospel today, Jesus poses an unusual challenge as we begin the season of Lent. We are called to consider why we pray, fast, and give our time and money to those in need. Addressing this demands a radical degree of honesty with ourselves. Jesus is saying it is not so important what we do but why we do it that makes the action fruitful and therefore pleasing to God, others, and ultimately ourselves.
We invite children to live simple acts of giving, fasting, and prayer to get them started on their spiritual path and to learn to be other-centered. These acts suit their early stage of spiritual development. However, as we mature we are invited to deepen our relationship with Jesus and to refine our motivations. True giving means sharing with others what we most want to keep. Temporary fasting is meant to put us in solidarity with those who live deprivation and loss on a daily basis. Prayer is making silent time so that God can speak words of truth and love to us.
Jesus lived in solidarity with us and showed us how to be compassionate: His desire for each of us is to be compassionate with one another. May this Lent be our time to walk with Jesus to the cross and walk in solidarity with all those who are oppressed and brokenhearted.
Psalm: 51:3–4, 5–6ab, 12–13, 14 and 17
2 Corinthians 5:20—6:2
Matthew 6:1–6, 16–18