Collect of the Day:
Lord, in your kindness fill our deepest being with your holy light,
so that we may be steadfast in our devotion to you:
for your wisdom created us and your providence guides us.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.
Today’s Readings: The First Reading: 2 Kings 2:1-14
It happened, when Yahweh would take up Elijah by a whirlwind into heaven, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Please wait here, for Yahweh has sent me as far as Bethel.” Elisha said, “As Yahweh lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. The sons of the prophets who were at Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that Yahweh will take away your master from your head today?” He said, “Yes, I know it; hold your peace.”
Elijah said to him, “Elisha, please wait here, for Yahweh has sent me to Jericho.”He said, “As Yahweh lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho.
The sons of the prophets who were at Jericho came near to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that Yahweh will take away your master from your head today?”He answered, “Yes, I know it. Hold your peace.” Elijah said to him, “Please wait here, for Yahweh has sent me to the Jordan.”He said, “As Yahweh lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.” They both went on. Fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood opposite them at a distance; and they both stood by the Jordan. Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and struck the waters, and they were divided here and there, so that they two went over on dry ground. It happened, when they had gone over, that Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let a double portion of your spirit be on me.”
He said, “You have asked a hard thing. If you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.” It happened, as they still went on, and talked, that behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha saw it, and he cried, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!”He saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and tore them in two pieces.
He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of the Jordan. He took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and struck the waters, and said, “Where is Yahweh, the God of Elijah?” When he also had struck the waters, they were divided here and there; and Elisha went over.
The Gospel: Matthew 6:1-18
6:1 “Be careful that you don’t do your charitable giving before men, to be seen by them, or else you have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. cj(6,2); 6:2 Therefore when you do merciful deeds, don’t sound a trumpet before yourself, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may get glory from men. Most certainly I tell you, they have received their reward. cj(6,3); 6:3 But when you do merciful deeds, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand does, cj(6,4); 6:4 so that your merciful deeds may be in secret, then your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. cj(6,5); 6:5 “When you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Most certainly, I tell you, they have received their reward. cj(6,6); 6:6 But you, when you pray, enter into your inner room, and having shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. cj(6,7); 6:7 In praying, don’t use vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their much speaking. cj(6,8); 6:8 Therefore don’t be like them, for your Father knows what things you need, before you ask him. cj(6,9); 6:9 Pray like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. cj(6,10); 6:10 Let your Kingdom come. Let your will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. cj(6,11); 6:11 Give us today our daily bread. cj(6,12); 6:12 Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors. cj(6,13); 6:13 Bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen.’
cj(6,14); 6:14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. cj(6,15); 6:15 But if you don’t forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
cj(6,16); 6:16 “Moreover when you fast, don’t be like the hypocrites, with sad faces. For they disfigure their faces, that they may be seen by men to be fasting. Most certainly I tell you, they have received their reward. cj(6,17); 6:17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face; cj(6,18); 6:18 so that you are not seen by men to be fasting, but by your Father who is in secret, and your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.
Today’s Gospel is very solemn. Jesus is telling us the way in which we should live out our spirituality. The overall message of this passage seems to be not to make an open show of our Faith as to receive accolades from others. Or to make ourselves seem more pious, in the eyes of people by our actions. This leads to a lot of empty actions and wasted words that neither further our own good or the real good of others.
Does this mean that we are not to be proud of our Faith and lives as Christians? Of course not. What it does mean however, is that our charitable acts, times of prayer and devotions should become such a part of our lives that they become ‘ORDINARY FRUITS’ of our daily existence rather than ‘EXTRAORDINARY FEATS’ of spectacular endurance. As a Christian seeking praise for an act of forgiveness, love or mercy should seems as strange as it would, for seeking praise for sleeping, breathing or eating.
Though we all sometimes fall and miss the mark, and that is what sin is, missing the mark. As we mature on our journey through life with Christ the Twelve Fruits of the Holy Spirit:
Should become so ingrained in our very being, that the extraordinary feat would be their absence not their presence.