2nd March 2022: Joel 2:12-18; Psalm 50(51):3-6,12-14,17; 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2; Matthew 6:1-6,16-18
A Device Matthew (and other authors of his day) often use is that of repetition. Today, you will often hear politicians use it in speeches and interviews, where it serves the same purpose: emphasis.
Jesus three times in this passage, says 'Do not be like them.... they have had their reward' (in reference to the Hypocrites). In the language of Jesus' time a Hypocrite was an actor - one who wears a mask and costume and takes on a part that it foreign to their own nature. It does not quite have the negative connotations that we attach to the word in this day and age. There were those then who played a part in the synagogue as perfectly correctly as they could - but missed the point that the synagogue, its place and rituals all had a good purpose. What matters above all, is the relationship between each of us and God our Father - which is expressed (however poorly) in these good works and in all the good works of our lives.
Our own churches, and rituals all have their own purpose and are important - we strive to get them 'right' - but perfection can be the enemy of what is right. The rite of Ash Wednesday reminds us that we are perfectly formed by God, and from the dust of the earth, and we shall return whence we came - our perfected souls to God and our Bodies to God's creation, the earth.