Posted: 18 Jun 2013 06:30 AM PDT
Today’s Gospel Text: “Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 2 “Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 16 “And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matt 6:1-6, 16-18
Reflection: Abraham Harold Maslow, in the year 1943, would never have proposed the theory of “hierarchy of needs” (Theory of human motivation), if humans did not work on motivating factors.
There are various things that motivate a human, what we in simple terms would call the ‘reward factor’.
There are philosophies and ideologies that seek to destroy these motivating factors totally and thus seek the enlightenment or the self actualization.
Some explicitly discourage any forms of desires and some even explicitly state that one should work without seeking a reward.
In the gospel passage Jesus promises his disciples, rewards, and in the process communicates the higher goals of life and the sort of reward we need to seek in life and for what purpose.
In other words, if there is any effort to shun rewards then it is those rewards which lead us to doom. Instead, we need to seek the higher reward which God has in store for us and for our good, for all eternity.
In the examples given by Jesus we can thus understand that, in any circumstances, we should not seek the reward of men’s approval when performing acts of kindness. But instead, seek the definite reward which has God’s approval and his offer of a sure hope which he has prepared for those who love him.
In other words, the motivation of our actions should be animated by the reward that God has in store for each one of us.
It is a sure reward proved and signed in the covenantal blood of Jesus Christ as seal for all eternity, proved by his death on the cross.
We would be foolish not to seek our self actualization by seeking to do God’s will and to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
Prayer: The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage. Ps 16:5-6 (NRSV)
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