By: Chad Hyatt
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
Reflection—v. 6, pray to your Father who is in secret
‘Hypocrite’—a word for which most of us could supply a ready definition and perhaps even a few good examples—was a common word for an actor, especially one who wore a mask. Jesus seems to be saying that our attempts to find our self-worth based upon the values of the world or in the opinions of others leaves us as masked actors, playing out a part for others to see. But playing the part for others does not reveal the deeper truth of who we are at heart. Are we comfortable—and perhaps comforted—by just going through the motions of prayer, assured that our practices affirm for others and for ourselves that we are on the right side of righteousness? Jesus invites us into a secret place of prayer where we can discover our own secret heart—our ‘infinite desires,’ as Saint Therese says—in the eyes of the one who truly sees us. Whether in public or private, in a small group or large assembly, or maybe just on a silent walk alone, this is what prayer is really about. In this secret place, our true and inestimable worth is discovered again and again in the reality that we are beloved by God. No play-acting is needed, for ourselves or others. Having gained our heart in secret, we can now live out God’s justice in relationship to others—our neighbors and our enemies, those ‘who have trespassed against us’ and ‘those we have trespassed against’ (6.12). Such prayer is an indispensable practice of justice.
Prayer God of the secret place, you bid me come, and to find with you my secret heart.