Ash Wed, March 1st

By: Chad Hyatt

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

Reflection— v. 4, your Father who sees

It is helpful to examine more closely the broad label Jesus gives to the practices of alms-giving, prayer, and fasting. Some English translations render it ‘piety’ or ‘religion.’ img_20170109_115637Naturally, we might read this and conclude that alms, prayer, and fasting are pious, religious practices. But the word Jesus actually uses in Greek is ‘righteousness’ or ‘justice.’ In Jesus’ view, alms, prayer, and fasting are practices of justice. Secondly, Jesus is situating these practices of justice in the context of competing value systems. He does this by asking whose honor do we seek when we show mercy, pray, or fast. Do we practice justice ‘before others in order to be seen by them’ or before ‘your Father who sees in secret’? The difference is which set of eyes give us our sense of worth and validation, our core sense of identity. Do we derive our sense of meaning and importance based upon how closely we hew to the norms and standards of our culture or the teachings of Jesus? Jesus set out for us the radical, revolutionary vision of God—how God sees our world: ‘Blessed are the poor… blessed are those who hunger and thirst… blessed are the meek.’ This is not the vision of the world around us, not in Jesus’ day and not now. Can we find the courage to live from our heart and find our worth in the eyes of the God who loves us all and blesses the poor?

Prayer Holy God, may you look on us with mercy, that we may be filled with life.