The good news for the day March 1, 2017
Jesus says to his followers: “Watch out not to do good deeds just for others to notice: you do that—and you will get nothing from your Father in heaven. When you give charity, do not publish it—the way hypocrites do in church and in public—to win approval. I am telling you the truth: they got their repayment already. When you do charity—don’t let your left hand know what your right hand does—so that your charity stays hidden; your Father—who sees hidden stuff–will give you repayment.
“When you decide to pray, don’t act like hypocrites—they pray in front of people and on TV so that others can notice. I am telling you the truth: they got their repayment already. When you decide to pray, go to some private place, shut the door, and pray to your father in private. Your Father—who sees hidden stuff—will give you repayment.
“When you decide to fast, do not emphasize it, the way hypocrites do. They broadcast it by any public way they can. I am telling you the truth: they got their repayment already. No, when you decide to fast or do some other self-denial—clean up, wash up—so that no one notices your choice—except your Father who is hidden Himself. Your Father, who sees what is hidden, will provide the repayment.” (Matthew 6)
How often we do stuff so people can see us! You and I hide—in actions or in words—from what might be embarrassing, or shameful, or wrong. But so often you and I want people to learn about our goodness, to praise our charity, piety or self-sacrifice.
All actions have consequences—public or private. Lent calls Christians to step back, confront the demons of impressing friends, neighbors and the world, to wrestle—away from our social network, our public—and find once again the core of what is right. Each choice—why do you do what you do? Do you serve others—because they need it? OR to win friends and influence people? To be a humble child of God—OR to win admiration? Jesus was popular—but He went off to pray, often hid miracles, and at the end washed feet despite objections. Let it be so this Lent. If you win any notice—let it be from judgmental hypocrites, from critics who do not see what your Father sees.