Sound No Trumpet (cf Mt 6:2)
“‘Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them’ (Matt. 6:1). He does not prohibit the practice of Christian righteousness in our every encounter…. Yet we must take care not to do them ‘in order to be seen’ by men, for then we will ‘have no reward’ (Matt 6:1). if you ask for glory from men and women for whom you work, you should not expect from God anything but the punishment reserved for hypcrites.” (Note 1)
Happy then, are they they whose ‘life is hidden with Christ in God’ (Col. 3:3), whom the world does not know, who live in the secret of God, contenting themselves with his regard….” (Note 2)
“Be on Guard, too, lest you content yourself with exterior order alone: for God is also owed something to look upon in secret, which is a heart that seeks him.” (Note 3)
“Hide your almsgiving from your most intimate friends, and, if possible, do not let the poor themselves know you.” (Note 4)
“Always fear that your intention in your good works is not sufficiently pure and detached from the regard of the world. Do good without expecting a return. Occupy yourself so completely with the good work itself that you do not ever think about what will come to you from it.” (Note 5)
Today’s readings are very important readings for Lent, especially since one of the three tenants of Lent is almsgiving. so often we want people to see us giving money, giving to the poor and downtrodden and those who are recovering from disasters. We saw it during the presidential campaign — who could outdo who in helping disaster victims. I do not fault them for their help, but strutting around on TV for everyone to see and making sure everyone knows who gave the help is a different story. This is going to sound bad, but I start to feel the same way about non-profit charities — not the ones on the front lines quietly helping the poor &c on a day to day basis, expecting nothing but their own goodwill in helping. I’m talking about the ones that put their names on them and then strut around saying things like, “look how much we do for the poor, the downtrodden, the disaster victims.” Instead of quietly helping those in need, they ‘blow their trumpets’ (cf Mt 6:2) so all can see and know their beneficent generosity. It’s actually kind of sickening — but I do take heart in knowing that they have received their reward on earth and their heavenly reward will be the reward of hypocrites (cf Mt 6:1-4).
This leads me to another topic that drives me crazy — social media. I have no problem sharing my love of God, Jesus and the gospel on social media, but I don’t need people guilting me into it with memes that say things like, “Like and share if you love Jesus; scroll by if you love the devil.” Seriously, people?! God isn’t a jealous nancy that spends all of His time stalking Facebook to make sure people are liking and sharing a meme. It caricatures God and faith and does more to drive people away than help them understand precisely because of the caricaturization. Please stop the madness of inane religious memes. And, further, from our readings of a few days ago to love our enemy, shouldn’t we love the devil and pray for him to God? I’m not saying love him and venerate him, but show love towards him and pray to God for his conversion — he is, after all, the ultimate enemy. A firm faith in God is our protection from the devil and his diabolical ways—but it doesn’t stop us from praying to God for the devil’s conversion — he was an angel. Futile? In effect, possibly; in affectation, no — love and pray for everyone.
I know I’m guilty of not praying for my enemies and sometimes I’m guilty of saying, “look how much I gave to charity.” We all have issues to work on and Lent gives us a reason to do so. Call someone who you want to ask forgiveness or to forgive for something, and use Lent as an excuse, “yeah, I wanted to ask you to forgive me for something, I’m calling you because I’ve been told I should because it’s Lent…” — God won’t mind.
1. Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, Meditations for Lent, trans. Christopher O. Blum (Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 2013), 53.
2. Bossuet, Meditations, 54.
3. Bossuet, Meditations, 55.
4. Bossuet, Meditations, 55.
5. Bossuet, Meditations, 55.