“When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you…When you pray, do not pray like the hypocrites…when you fast, do not look gloomy….”
The Lord loves a joyful giver. The Lord loves a sincere and contrite heart, for the Lord is attracted to the pure and poor of heart.
So much of our faith is based on two things: Giving and forgiving. These are the two words that best describe Christian love; that best describe the God of Love. They are the two qualities that describe His marvelous creation and His amazing redemption.
In the beginning…, before there was time, God created the Heavens and the earth, and there was no one to see it! And at the appointed time, God rose from the dead, and there was no one to witness it! Instead of bringing doubts to our hearts, these unique facts should lift up our hearts to the Lord. Isn’t humility beautiful? Don’t we all value and appreciate it?
Unlike so many Kings before him, the Lord did not let the trumpets blast upon his arrival. Instead, He preferred silence. No fireworks for this King! No fanfare or grand announcements upon The Son’s arrival. Rather, the heralds and guards stood silent in the darkness of the night. The only indication that something amazing was occurring was a star (a sun) that guided three humble Kings and caused an astronomical stir in Herald’s court.
Today’s reading is our Lord’s personal invitation to imitate Him. That is, when you give, be like God. When you love, be like Jesus. When you fast, look like the Lord.
Be, do, think, love and live like the Lord in all things, and your heavenly Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.
For a Christian, the greatest virtue to exercise is not tolerance or to be likeable. No! The greatest virtue coming from the greatest God is the greatest vocation given to us by the Greatest Son: the virtue and vocation to love. By His (this) name the entire world will know who you are and who you belong to. It does not mean we cannot debate or judge the great issues of the day. Isn’t there a right way to get home and a wrong way that will lead us astray and further away? If someone says there is no god and another says there is, can both be right? It’s perfectly fine to believe one faith is the true faith and another is not. After all, can God be both One and many or none? Can Jesus be God and not God? Of course not! But we should never think that someone who holds a position different from ours is stupid or ignorant. That is judging their heart and we cannot do that.
The Lord seeks His beloved and the beloved seeks to be loved. To love and be loved requires some training; otherwise, it will become a selfish love. Let the training begin!
There are three human acts that help us to become less selfish: alms-giving, prayer and fasting. Alms-giving requires sacrifice. If there is no sacrifice, then there can be no authentic alms. To do this, we must pray… Yes, prayer is essential. We don’t give or forgive easily, and prayer reminds me of who really gives: The Lord. It is not I who give, but Christ who gives through me. It is not my time, talents and treasure that I give to the Lord but what is rightly his! So I fast, I begin to deny myself in order to live my life better. When I fast, I begin to think modestly, dress modestly and live modestly so that I can love much! When I give, fast and pray, I clear my mind, body and soul of all the glitter, glitches and glamour this world would love to sell me in order to help me “stand out”!
Don’t forget what the Lord did to the crowd of vendors who came too close to His Father’s holy Temple! And don’t forget that you are the Temple of His Glory.