February 22, 2023
Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-18
The liturgical year which I have come to experience and be referred to as the “playing field of God” and His children, offers us the design by which we can mark this sanctifying process fruitfully in our Christian journey. Its cycle reflects the sacred memory of Jesus’ life, passion, death and resurrection, for which we are the caretakers. Year after year we walk this journey of sanctifying the world through Christ. For me this process is not just reflecting on the traditional doctrines (Prayer, fasting and almsgiving) of the season, but also a period to choose life like the readings of the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time which the liturgical calendar invites us to do. It is a period to reflect on the commandments of God and the daily choices we make in life and see if they mirror the person of Christ and what He stands for. It is a time to evaluate our resolutions for the year 2023 and see how far we have gone. And above all, it is the season of complete metanoia or conversion from an old life to new life in Christ.
In the first reading and all three readings of the day, God calls the people of their time and us today to Himself out of love. God wants a complete return to Him from our ungodliness, repent and receive His mercy and forgiveness. God does not delight in the death of a sinner but desires that we give Him our whole heart not just a part but our entire being. We live in a world full of distractions and depressing news from our social media these days. We had hardly come out of the Covid 19 stage, then come the war between Russia and Ukraine. And as though that was not enough, we hear again the devasting earthquake described as the “disaster of the century” which hit Turkey and Syria that has claimed tens of thousands of lives besides properties. The reason for all these comes from our unhealthy interaction with our mother earth, our lack of forgiveness, resentment and greed. Displacement of people as a result of war, drought and starvation, political instability, hunger for power, selfishness, and we can list more – are results of all this.
During this Lenten season we are called to put aside all the aforementioned factors and vices that promote division and embrace the virtue of unity, love, empathy, peace, neighborliness. It is a time to work on our sinful desires and do all we can to be closer to God. It is the time to reclaim the richness and benefit the church has made available for us to be sanctified by approaching the sacrament of reconciliation. It is a time to accompany our prayers with actions. It is a time to walk with God in His “playing field” (Liturgical Season) to purify our lives both interiorly and exteriorly. It is a period to seriously and consciously look at our attitudes and consider a change of heart to take place where needed. God loves us and wants to be in relationship with us. It is a period to remember that God is that washer-woman God, never tired of washing us clean. He does not throw away the dirty water with the child but takes the pain to wash the dirt from the child/children. God is always right there to pick us back up and help us get our feet under us again. Let us be more proactive during this season to prayer, fasting and giving alms to the poor. Welcome them, assist the needy irrespective of their race, tribe, social status, ethnicity or religious affiliation. Let us give the alms of forgiveness, love, peace, neighborliness, kindness, charity and empathy. Let us breathe out positive energy into our world, the Ruah (breath or Spirit) of love, hope and peace as we begin this season.
Matthew 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.”
The Gospel of the Lord