Grace to you!
Tony is an unassuming young man. He is one of those nobody notices in the parish. He comes to Mass regularly, almost every day, except when he is out of town. There is nothing spectacular about him. Yet, he has constantly surprised the pastor with his generous donations to the building of the parish as well as volunteering for community services. Nobody knows about these donations, except the pastor and the person who does the books.
Impressed by Frank’s generous contributions, the pastor wanted to know more about him. What he discovered, was even more fascinating. He found the man’s generosity is rooted in his deep love for God and for people, and in his belief that when he donates to the church or helps the poor, he does it for the sake of God. It is his private life and devotion to God and for humanity.
The above true story (Tony not his real name) is a rare virtuous example in our world today. When was the last time you heard that a donor or a sponsor of an event was anonymous? When was the last time you saw people decline awards because they want their generosity for a particular cause to remain private?
The Lord speaks to us in a special way in his word in Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18. It is part of his long teachings on the Sermon on the Mount. He speaks about religious practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. He tells us about what the true spirit of those religious practices, also called acts of piety, should be.
Our acts of piety are to be done in secret. Meaning, our intentions for fasting, praying or giving alms, if they must be pure and acceptable to God, must not be done for public praise.
We know sometimes, the good deeds people do have to be made public as a good example for others to follow. However, it depends on the intentions for the publicity. In dealing with the spiritual life, intention matters. When I fast or pray, what inspires me to make it known? Why do I make my donations for a cause or to my church or for the poor? If the intention is to be praised or honored for what I do, the Lord is telling us, we have received our reward.
In our churches and in organizations, I wonder, for instance, what will happen to donation drives if awards are not granted to donors? If their names are not printed in BOLD letters or on marble stones as the donors? I wonder how many people will still be financiers of good causes in the community if not to be recognized and given places of honor in the community?
The Lord sets a standard constantly challenging the status quo. Little surprise many don’t buy his model. Yet for those who do, the Lord assures his own personal award—Incredible Blessings.
We pray for the grace to lead as the Lord requires. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Grace to you!
[Wednesday Week 11 Ordinary Time B: 2 Kgs 2:1, 6-14; Mt 6:1-6, 16-18]
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.