2 Kings 2:1, 6-14
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
In our gospel, Jesus our teacher is speaking to Jewish people, but the key point he is making applies to Christians as well. He warns about practising faith just to make a good impression on others, and get their approval, esteem, and praise. So, he warns against putting on a show when we pray, when we fast, and when we make donations to charity, and insists on complete sincerity in all religious practices.
He clearly has no time for image-building (what Italian people call cultivating a bella figura). So, what is most important when we pray, is not how much we pray or who notices us at prayer, but our attention to God as we pray. Fasting as a form of self-denial, expresses our desire to empty ourselves of self-centredness, in order to be filled with longing for God and a God-centred life of love. When we donate to needy fellow human beings from our resources, we do so for reasons of care and compassion for brothers and sisters, and we remember that Jesus takes what is done to them as done to him.
Brian Gleeson CP