One Minute Reflection – 2 March – Ash Wednesday –Joel 2:12-19, Matthew 6:16-21
“They have received their reward” – Matthew 6:16
REFLECTION – “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them.” Why not? If people see them then what will you get out of them? “You will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.” My brethren, the Lord is not bringing judgement here but giving an explanation. He casts light on the wiles of our thoughts, He strips bare the secret intentions of our souls. He draws attention to the measure of a just retribution, to those unrighteous, pondering righteousness. Righteousness that sets itself in the sight of others can expect no divine reward from the Father. It wanted to be seen and it was seen; it wanted to please others and it pleased them. It has received the recompense it wanted – the recompense it did not want, it will not have …
“When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do.” “Blow your trumpet” – this is the exact phrase in that this kind of alms is more like a deed of war than of peace. It passes wholly into its sound but has nothing to do with mercy. It comes from the land of disunion but has not been nourished by goodness. It is a dealing in outward show, not chaste commerce …. “So, then, 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.” You have taken good note: – alms offered at a meeting, in public square and street corners, is not an offering made for the comforting of the poor but has been set forward in the sight of others to attract their admiration … Flee hypocrisy, my brethren, flee from it …. It does not bring comfort to the poor; the groans of the homeless but is only a pretext for it, to seek out even more busily, a spectacular glory for itself. It inflates its praise of the suffering of the poor. – St Peter Chrysologus (406-450) Bishop of Ravenna, Father and Doctor of the Church (Sermon 9).
PRAYER – Grant, O Lord, that Your faithful people may, with true piety, undertake the time-honoured custom of fasting and may carry it out with unwavering devotion. Through Jesus Christ, Thy Son our Lord, Who lives and reigns with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen (Collect).