Fr Paul says today we celebrate Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent, a season of preparation, hence the change to the colour purple. He then reads from the Gospel of Matthew (6: 1-6, 16-18) in which Jesus tells his disciples to be genuine in giving to others, not for appearances or for what they will get out of it.
Fr Paul says when we read this Gospel of Matthew’s, it is made all the more memorable through the repetition Matthew uses, which he does this quite often in his writings. We heard repetition three times in this Gospel… words and lines like… ‘and your Father, who sees all that is done in secret, will reward you’. Matthew uses this tool of repeating things, again and again. The Gospel today highlights the three good works of Judaism – prayer, fasting and almsgiving. It is quite clear from the Gospel that we are not to parade our good works; they are to be made only known to God. What matters here, too, says Fr Paul, is the insistence of that relationship between God and ourselves and how that relationship is lived by doing these three good works. As our Lent begins, we are always encouraged to put these three good works – prayer, fasting and almsgiving – in place in some way shape or form during our Lenten journey – to spend more time in prayer, to fast on Fridays or at other times, and to give of our time, talents or wealth. In closing, Fr Paul asks, ‘What are we going to do this Lent to strengthen the relationship between ourselves and God through one of these good works?