Tony Worner, Leader of Formation for St Agnes Catholic Parish, reads from Matthew’s Gospel (6: 1-6, 16-18) in which Jesus says ‘when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret and your Father, who sees all that is done in secret, will reward you’.God, teach us humility; teach us compassion; teach us love. Through your Son and with the Spirit, guide and strengthen us. Amen.
Tony says, you might be forgiven in thinking that we are again in the Lenten season, as this is the Gospel that we read every year on Ash Wednesday. When Jesus addresses, prayer, fasting and almsgiving, he urges us to turn away from ourselves in order to see the wider picture. In this particular passage, Tony notes, Jesus isn’t criticising these practises. He’s asking us to examine our motivation in doing them. Prayer, fasting and almsgiving are only a means to an end – they need to lead to something deeper – a relationship with God. This isn’t the time for show and fanfare. It’s not about looking pious, so people can notice our holiness. It’s about spending time with God in quiet and private, still doing these things, but understanding that these lead to an intimacy with God, and allowing God to transform us little by little, into God’s own image. In closing Tony invites us to pray: