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June 17, 2020

MT 6:1-6, 16-18

“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. “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. 

Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“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. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 

But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 

But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Offering our gifts to God discreetly

Jesus reminds the disciples to pray, fast and give alms discreetly. This reminds me of a time some years ago when a young man arrived at Bethany Retreat House to begin a 30-day retreat. He met the other retreatants–three men and 15 religious women–and the next day he began his retreat. In the second week of the retreat he decided to fast for a few days. The following morning, he met with his director and she immediately asked if he was sick or if something was wrong. He responded that everything was fine, and wondered why she asked. She told him that many of the nuns did not see him at meals and were terribly concerned about his welfare. They both chuckled and she suggested when he fasted to just walk through the dining room and get a cup of tea or water so the women weren’t overly concerned.

Jesus taught that solitude, private prayer, fasting and supporting religious institutions are all good intentions, yet this above example proved that discretion sometimes doesn’t work. These months of solitude and stay in place orders have been a great time for prayer, fasting and almsgiving due to Covid-19 and the injustices that have come to the forefront of our attention. As a nation we are at a crossroads.

—Joe Spina is a former member of the Parish Mission Team of the Archdiocese of New York as well as working in prison ministry. He trained as an Ignatian spiritual director through the Center for Spirituality and Justice in Bronx, NY. 

Prayer

Lord Jesus, call us to a deeper sense of prayer, fasting and generosity during these days of pandemic and death as we lift up the sick and dying, our healthcare workers, and first responders. Raise up for us leaders seeking truth and justice for all. Illumine for all to see the institutional racism that has been manifested in these past months. Show us the way to be Christ for one another. In Jesus name we pray, amen.

—Joe Spina


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June 17, 2020

MT 6:1-6, 16-18

“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. “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. 

Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“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. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 

But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 

But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Offering our gifts to God discreetly

Jesus reminds the disciples to pray, fast and give alms discreetly. This reminds me of a time some years ago when a young man arrived at Bethany Retreat House to begin a 30-day retreat. He met the other retreatants–three men and 15 religious women–and the next day he began his retreat. In the second week of the retreat he decided to fast for a few days. The following morning, he met with his director and she immediately asked if he was sick or if something was wrong. He responded that everything was fine, and wondered why she asked. She told him that many of the nuns did not see him at meals and were terribly concerned about his welfare. They both chuckled and she suggested when he fasted to just walk through the dining room and get a cup of tea or water so the women weren’t overly concerned.

Jesus taught that solitude, private prayer, fasting and supporting religious institutions are all good intentions, yet this above example proved that discretion sometimes doesn’t work. These months of solitude and stay in place orders have been a great time for prayer, fasting and almsgiving due to Covid-19 and the injustices that have come to the forefront of our attention. As a nation we are at a crossroads.

—Joe Spina is a former member of the Parish Mission Team of the Archdiocese of New York as well as working in prison ministry. He trained as an Ignatian spiritual director through the Center for Spirituality and Justice in Bronx, NY. 

Prayer

Lord Jesus, call us to a deeper sense of prayer, fasting and generosity during these days of pandemic and death as we lift up the sick and dying, our healthcare workers, and first responders. Raise up for us leaders seeking truth and justice for all. Illumine for all to see the institutional racism that has been manifested in these past months. Show us the way to be Christ for one another. In Jesus name we pray, amen.

—Joe Spina


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

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