Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Reflection: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Ash Wednesday – Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Today we begin the season of Lent.  Lent is a time to step back and examine our lives.  Lent is a time to repent.  Today is the day we receive ashes on our foreheads.  The ashes are a symbol of the reality that we came forth from the earth and that when we die we will return to the earth. The words that accompany that the offering of ashes remind us that we are “dust.”  We will have an end.  We will die.  However, death will not be the end of us.  Hopefully, we will live eternally with God.

Jesus’ words in this reading may give us ideas about what we might do during Lent.  Jesus warns his disciples not to do good deeds simply so others will think highly of them!  Jesus wants his disciples to be aware of their motivation for what they do.  He wants them to do what is right or good because they desire to help others, love others, and make the world a better place.

Jesus is not concerned primarily about the actions of his disciples.  Rather, He is concerned about their motivations.  Jesus hopes their actions and decisions will flow from love of the God, love of the Gospel, love for the people and love for the world.  Truly, love is all matters.

How often do we stop and examine our motivations?  It is easy to move through the day and simply go about our business.  Are we concerned about others or are we too preoccupied even to notice the people around us?  I believe that the majority of people in the world want to be good.  Most people do care for others and desire to help them. 

Our motivations, however, are not always clean and pure.  At times, do I choose to do something so the other person will think well of me?  Do I go to church because that is where I want to be or do I attend simply because I am supposed to?   When I am tired, do I ignore someone who might need some help?  If I am in a bad mood, do I take it out on other people? 

I assume that all of us have made some of the choices listed above at times in our lives.  However, if the majority of our time and attention is focused primarily on ourselves and our own needs, it might be a good idea to reflect on our choices.  Most often the source of our happiness is in the people in our lives.  Hopefully, most of the people around us bring us joy and love.  Yes, there will be difficult times.  However if love is present, difficulties can be worked out.  In the daily, it is their presence, love and care that is the greatest gift we receive.

Today may we be mindful of our choices and decisions.  We all have heard the saying: “What would Jesus do?”  Today we might experience a choice or challenge as we go about our day.  May we pause for a moment and thoughtfully ask ourselves: What would Jesus do?  Listen for Jesus’ answer.  He will respond.

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