‘So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others…‘And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. (Matt 6:2,5)
Lent is our opportunity to ‘fess up’ to our failings and do what we can to be better people. Self-improvement? Lent has provided that chance for centuries. We know what to do – but remembering to do it? That is grace. This passage reminds us of what we know, but forget. “Grandstanding” is clearly not just a 21st century malaise! For those of us who are extrovert or needy – a ‘burst pipe’ or crave the pat on the back – such advice is all the more challenging.
Our task is to help young people to build a reflex of giving, a reflex of prayer – so that they become second nature. The moral equivalent of muscle memory. A reflex of giving reminds us how blessed we are that we live in community and that we are our brother’s and sister’s keeper. A reflex of prayer reminds us that all we have and all we are is gift from God and that we never have to go it alone. Such is the Christian life to which we are all called.
Have a great week!