Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Why we Should Always Give God the Credit: What Jesus Teaches us in Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Offering prayer, giving alms, and fasting should not be done in a dramatic way, intending to draw attention to the faithful. Many hypocritical religious leaders of Jesus’ time were guilty of public displays of piety, and Jesus, here, teaches that this false piety is not the Way. These acts of love, instead, are to be offered purely in the core of our hearts with sincerity and love for God and neighbor.

Sometimes these acts of love, which are given to us by the grace of the Holy Spirit, can, with the right intention, be offered in public for others to see.  But only if they are shown in order to glorify God, not ourselves. Jesus teaches in Matthew 5:16, for instance, that we should shine our light on others “so that they will see the good things [we] do and praise [our] Father in heaven.” Prayer, likewise, can be offered in public if it is in the right context and done for the right reason. Praying together in church, for instance the Our Father during the liturgy of the Eucharist, and praying in  groups, such as praying the Rosary, are naturally done for the glory of God and love of neighbor. Communal prayer, therefore, is not hypocritical prayer. Jesus is speaking against the self-aggrandizing Pharisees who try to call attention to their false piety when they should be glorifying God.

When we are tempted to brag or think highly of our offerings of prayer, treasure, time, talent, and fasting, we, too, fall into the trap of the Pharisees. We give to God because the Holy Spirit is working in us, with us, and through us; for we are not able to do anything outside of God’s grace. Everything we offer, then, are God’s gifts being offered back. Shouldn’t we give credit, where credit is due?