Gospel Reading: Mt 6:1-6, 16-18
Jesus said to his disciples: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”
YOUR FATHER WHO SEES WHAT IS HIDDEN WILL REPAY YOU.
Jesus takes up the three basic good deeds performed by a Jew: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. All three are in danger of being done for show.
Hypocrisy is a very common temptation, not only in religious practices but also in our everyday relationships.
A student may hate his teacher but be kind and respectful only to get good grades. One may hate a rich relative but behave very respectfully in the latter’s presence just to get some money.
Politicians may sneer at the “foolish masses” but, wanting to be elected, pretend to be concerned and to please the people with smooth talk and grand promises. A man may project himself as the perfect husband but keep a lover in secret.
There is no end and limit to hypocrisy. Even a nation may project itself as a Christian country but reek of crime and corruption.
Again, it is Jesus who gives us the best example on how to avoid hypocrisy. He is always himself. He never pretends to be who he is not. He is straightforward even when he gets into trouble and makes enemies. He teaches difficult things, but he is the first to practice what he teaches.
Being aware of the too common temptation to hypocrisy can help us to fight it and strive for honesty in speech and deed.
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