Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 6,1-6.16-18

'Be careful not to parade your uprightness in public to attract attention; otherwise you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give alms, do not have it trumpeted before you; this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win human admiration. In truth I tell you, they have had their reward. But when you give alms, your left hand must not know what your right is doing; your almsgiving must be secret, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you. 'And when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites: they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues and at the street corners for people to see them. In truth I tell you, they have had their reward. But when you pray, go to your private room, shut yourself in, and so pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you. 'When you are fasting, do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do: they go about looking unsightly to let people know they are fasting. In truth I tell you, they have had their reward. But when you fast, put scent on your head and wash your face, so that no one will know you are fasting except your Father who sees all that is done in secret; and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jesus speaks of the disciples' behaviour. He says that they should not live well to be admired by people, as the Pharisees do. The pride of one's own consistency is always worldly, as is that before people. Jesus has already made it clear that the ancient law must be lived with a new spirit, with a renewed heart, that is, inspired by love and not by simple observance. The Gospel wants to make us grow in us the awareness that our actions are carried out for building the kingdom of God. Each of us knows the temptation to live to show off: it does not matter whether before God or before people. The believer is called to take part in God's work for the salvation of the world. The Lord does not ask his disciples to hide the good in their lives. On the contrary, in an earlier passage, Jesus invited them to let their light shine rather than put it under a bushel. Jesus asks to spend our life for the Gospel and the Kingdom of God and recalls three religious practices that were held in high esteem: giving alms, praying and fasting. The invitation in all three practices aims to emphasize their inner aspect so that they are true, and not external, habits. Giving alms requires the involvement of our heart with the poor. We need to get close to them, to be interested in them, in brief, to love them because Christ is present in them. Prayer means first of all making room to the Word of God in our heart so that it may sink in it, blossom and bear fruit in daily life. This requires listening to the Spirit, the teacher of spiritual life for believers. The same is true for fasting that is an interior, necessary struggle to defat our "ego" and grow the space for welcoming the Lord and the brothers and sisters. What is written in the book of Revelation will happen: "Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me" (Rev 3:20). This is the reward of the disciple, to live from now on with the Lord.