The Good News for the Day, June 21, 2017
Wednesday of the Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time (367)
Jesus says to His followers and friends: “Keep in mind not to do good deeds just for people to see them; otherwise, you will have no value in the eyes of your heavenly Father. When you give charity, don’t brag about it the way hypocrites do in public and religious places—even on the street—to win admiration from others. The honest truth: they got the reward they wanted. When you give charity, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing—so that your charity can stay hidden. (Your Father who sees in secret will give you what you are doing it for.) “When you pray, don’t act like hypocrites, who enjoy standing praying prominently in religious gatherings and in public just so that other people notice them. The truth is, they got what they did it for. When you pray, go find some private place, close the door, and pray to your Father in seclusion. (Your Father who sees in secret will give you what you deserve.) … “When you fast or do practices like that, don’t act depressed like hypocrites, who shape their appearance to get noticed for fasting. The truth is: they got what they did it for. No, when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face, so that you don’t look like you are fasting—except for your Father who is unseen. Your Father who sees what is unseen will give you what you are doing it for.” (Matthew 6)
Many—too many—of us do this hypocritical thing. We do something good just for people to see. You see others do this, too—public people especially do it even more—politicians, religious leaders and others with uniforms or authority—who do or say something to make an impression, to be admired for wisdom, caring and humility—when their hypocrisy is hiding a decision past or future that is shameful. They do it to get approval.
The Good News is that you and I struggle with this—to avoid little lies of self-importance and exaggerations that make us look good. Prayer, charity and repentance are really unseen acts of the heart and soul; they need to emerge when needed—and not for show. Don’t try so hard to look good, I tell myself, and just try to do what is right. The “reward” that comes is intrinsic, of far greater value than approval or admiration from others.