Sister Mary Thomas
“And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. Mt 6: 4
The gospel for this day is the message we hear each year at the beginning of Lent. The caution with this regular pattern is we may be so familiar with this passage that we are unaffected. So this year, instead of looking at what we are not to do – do not blow a trumpet, do not be like hypocrites, do not look gloomy let’s see what we could focus on.
Lent is a retreat for the entire Christian community. As we strive to get our spiritual house in order the first part of this passage challenges us to examine our motives. Whatever sacrifice you decide to do for Lent pay attention to the motive that fuels this good intention. We are not to do righteous deeds to be noticed by others. What, then, is our motive?
In our prayer we are to pray from our “inner room” not on the street corner. The focus is on our relationship with God as we truly are before God, not what we would like others to presume our relationship with God is. The protected inner room allows us to be honest with ourselves and honest before God. We are unguarded in this intimate space with God. Daring to stand in our naked truth, in our need for a Savior, opens the doorway to experiencing God’s unconditional love and healing. Where can we be more honest?
Fasting as a discipline empowers us to curb our appetites – for food, for acclaim, for power and many other excesses that can weigh us down spiritually. Fasting enables us to turn from these more obvious hungers to desire and hunger for God alone as primary. Turning away or letting go of a perceived good, even when excessive, can cause us to feel sad or gloomy. Choosing to empty ourselves out of love is an act of hope in God’s power working in us which can do more than we can imagine. We are staking our wellbeing, not in any temporal good, but in God in whom we entrust our entire life. What are we turning from and what are we turning toward?