Joel 2:12-18; Psalm 50(51):3-6,12-14,17; 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2; Matthew 6:1-6,16-18
"They have had their reward"
Listen for this repeated phrase in today's Gospel. Mathew uses it as a pivot around which he turns the Old Testament into the good news of the New Testament. Three times, for prayer, fasting and giving alms - three keys upon which Jewish social teaching was built, and upon which Catholic Social Teaching depend. Strong foundations - but there is a danger to undermine them if we are at all boastful about our application of them. Pray, Fast and give Alms but do not even let your right hand know what your left hand is doing! We do not need to let God know what we choose to do this Lent - He will know and will be delighted.
Our children are going to be invited to complete wall charts with what they have done FOR lent - not what they have given up. Simple things, like helping mum do the washing - may mean so much to that busy saint in our homes. As adults we perhaps do not need to create charts and reward ourselves with stickers for accomplishing these things - but a daily act of recollection is a wise thing to add to our daily practice. Perhaps pin this up where we brush our teeth before going to bed - or wherever might help us.
This is a version of the five-step Daily Examen that St. Ignatius practiced.
1. Become aware of God’s presence.
2. Review the day with gratitude.
3. Pay attention to your emotions.
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
5. Look toward tomorrow.
For details about each step of the Examen, read How Can I Pray?