Public relations are very important in our culture, aren’t they? Great value is placed upon how we’re seen and perceived by others, and we’re very concerned about doing things that will get us noticed, appreciated, and admired. This is true even for matters of faith and religion.
That’s why Jesus’ words in the gospel today can be so challenging. He told us that we should be on our guard against performing religious acts for others to see. Our left hand must not know what our right hand is doing; we’re to pray in private behind closed doors; and our appearance shouldn’t reveal that we’re fasting.
Jesus knows that we often bring mixed motives to our religious undertakings. Some of our motivations- the ones inspired by God- are noble and good. Things like wanting to serve others, meet their needs, alleviate their suffering, grow closer to God, and do penance for our sins.
But sometimes we have other motives that aren’t as laudable. We may do religious things because we hope others will see us as holy or be grateful to us for the kind things we’ve done.
When we act in this way, we’re seeking to glorify ourselves- and there’s the catch. Because as Christians, all we do, in one way or another, should be done for the glory of God. As we journey through the 40 days of Lent, let’s always examine our motives, and ask the Lord to purify them, so that what we do is not driven by concern for public relations, but by a spirit of private praise.
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