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Almsgiving, prayer, fasting

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.”

ALMSGIVING, PRAYER, FASTING.

Lent begins with the imposition of ashes on the faithful. During this season of forty days, we are invited to reflect on our lives in view of inner conversion and concrete works of mercy. The mood is penitential as we are called to confront and own our sinfulness; at the same time, the season is grace-filled, even as we rise from our weaknesses to being forgiven and given chances to follow Christ more faithfully.

Lent provides us with opportunities to deepen our Christian lives, our relationship with God, especially through the pillars of Judeo-Christian spirituality mentioned in the Gospel: almsgiving, prayer, and fasting. But Jesus warns us against using these means to our own ends, that is, to earn people’s approval. These things, Jesus teaches, should help purify and sanctify us and should be done in a most unobtrusive manner and in the true spirit of humility. The ideal is that only God knows what we are doing. As we make personal sacrifices, abstain from usual comforts, share with the needy, and intensify our prayer life, we dispose ourselves for the great feast of Easter.

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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2017,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: books@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.

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