The Gospel of Matthew is full of "secrets." Or at least it is seemingly that way. In today's selection from Matthew, we have Jesus talking about appropriate ways to pray and to be pious, and it can be interpreted to center around this pervasive idea of God's secrecy and the hiding of things.
As with most things scriptural, relying on the literal understanding of these verses misses the larger point: the more important point. We all know people whose piety is grandiose in style: and more often then not, false. It is done all for show, and perhaps for fraudulent purposes: to enrich those participating in the show, as opposed to living out the mission and ministry to which Jesus is calling each of us.
Jesus is saying in this passage that if we are truly getting his message, and living into this way of being, we interact with the world in a different manner. We don't need to look dismal when we fast, for it is not a burden to do something for God about which we have passion.
We are asked today to think about "fasting," and "giving alms," and "praying," as metaphors of how we operate within the world. What is behind those acts? What, within us, is driving us to "do" those things? Are they for us alone? For show? For God?....Are they (and other things like them) a step toward our being different on the inside, in how we view the world and operate within it?
Jesus is asking us to truly look within and understand why we are doing things, acting in the manner we are acting. Are those things we are doing helping us in the building of the kingdom? If they are not, than why are we doing them?
Copyright 2012, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: The former Chapel at VTS.