Anne O’Brien, Leader of Mission Integration for St Agnes’ Catholic Parish, reads and reflects on Matthew’s Gospel (6: 1-8, 16-18) in which Jesus tells his disciples to be careful about doing things just to be noticed, but rather their good deeds and prayer should be done without fanfare for the sake of the Father, who sees all.
In today’s Gospel, Anne says, Jesus paints a picture of the Christian practice that does not seek publicity. Its focus is not on public recognition and acclaim but on inner most thoughts and quiet actions.
Our intimate relationship with God in prayer is the source from which our fasting and almsgiving arise. This interior life with our heavenly Father is something no camera will ever view. As St John Henry Newman has reminded us ‘it is the place where God and the soul alone meet’. It is from this prayerful relationship with God and, especially, in listening to God that our almsgiving, fasting and other virtuous practices arise. It is the Holy Spirit, who is inspiring those actions in us.
Anne suggests that, if you have time to read St Paul’s letter (2 Corinthians 9:6-11) which is the first reading today, he gives clear, helpful advice as to how to widen our hearts to make more space for God, who is always seeking to come close to us.
Paul, in this reading, urges us to be generous in our time and almsgiving. We are encouraged to take the risk of stepping out of our comfort zone and seeing what God can do for us and what we can do together when we listen to him
Anne invites us to finish our reflection time today with a prayer:
Make us people of prayer who can rejoice in your closeness to us; Give us the humility to serve you in hidden ways; and save us from the desire to be admired for our Christian service.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.