11th Week in Ord. Time, Wednesday – 17th June 2020 — Gospel: Mt 6,1-6.16-18
Motivation for righteous deeds
This section is in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount. The subject matter in focus is on the personal piety in the areas of giving, praying and fasting. The initial reading will show that the basic teaching of Jesus will be to avoid the pretentious show of piety and to seek to please God. The pattern of his teaching will include first something to be avoided (vv.2,5,16), then something to do (vv.3,6,17), and finally the promise of reward for doing it right (vv.4,6,18). The verb ‘reward’ appears seven times in this passage, which is interlinked with the purpose of one’s righteous act. The first time the word appears in the general instruction (v.1) is with its denial. In the three examples of personal piety the word is paired and balanced. In the show case of activities the reward of public acclaim takes place in full measure, which is highlighted in the past tense, where as God’s reward is futuristic and private, which is eschatological. At times true piety means doing something without any consideration of reward. But the Biblical instructions always promise reward from the Father in heaven. If then, how will we know if we have pleased God? It is very difficult to measure. It is to be felt by one’s motivation for the righteous deeds that is directed from the heart and it brings a deeper sense of God’s affirmation with his pat on the back, “Well done, good and faithful servant”.