Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
"Watch out! Don't do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don't do as the hypocrites do- blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on the streets corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you."
"And when you fast, don't make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. Don't store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust can not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be."
The following was written by my Bishop, Julian Gordy:
On this day we begin a spiritual pilgrimage. our destination is that place of self-knowledge that Jesus points us toward in the beatitudes: that place where we know that we are - on our own- not paragons of righteousness, but sinners dependent on God's mercy and love; that place where our good works come from some place deep within and not from our need to impress others with our goodness.
Over the years I have come to believe that the most important work of Lent is the humility. Humility is not a "woe-is-me, poor worm that I am" attitude. The word "humble" comes from the same root as the words human and humas and humor. It means "of the earth." To humble oneself is nothing more or less that to know yourself, your humanity, your needs, your shortcomings, and your gifts. It is to come to know who you are and who God is. It is to come to the place where you do not confuse the creature with the Creator, where you cease to be the center of the universe and recognize yourself as one very much beloved part of God's good creation.
That is where our Lenten journey could lead us: to self-awareness and to God-awareness. Undertaken in humility, our forty day pilgrimage could take us to that where we can be honest about our shortcomings while at the same time knowing that honesty will not run God off, but will be the occasion for God's affirming us as beloved children.
Lent reminds us that the way to righteousness lies through the desert of confronting our unrighteousness! Of knowing we are sinners greatly loved by god. That's the love we will see in Holy Week when we see the Incarnate God hanging on a cross out of love for us.
May God's blessing be yours as you undertake this journey of self-awareness, humility and grace.
Gracious god, As we begin our Lenten pilgrimage, help us to more clearly see you and ourselves. May we do justice, love mercy and humbly walk with you. Amen.
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