Jesus instructs on proper prayer, almsgiving and fasting. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by building the Virtue of Humility so he can always be generous and anonymous in giving and by growing in the Virtue of Sacrifice so he can sacrifice for Christ by prayer and fasting.
11th Week in Ordinary Time – Wednesday – Mt 6:1-6; 16-18
After confirming how His New Covenant requires men to pursue a much higher state of inner holiness than required by the Old Covenant, Jesus continues His Sermon on the Mount by confirming the importance of long-held practices (almsgiving, prayer and fasting) of Religion (a part of Justice) which draw men to God and by authoritatively rebuking hypocrites who seek self-glorification from others through prideful conspicuous “religious” acts.
Jesus affirms how disciples are to humbly and privately perform each practice to draw closer to God and receive rewards from Him. Beginning with the need to provide for the poor and suffering, Jesus directs His disciples to secretly give alms to the poor; alms (from Latin, meaning “pity, mercy”) are usually a gift of money to those who cry out in their suffering. Jesus also confirms the importance of prayer, emphasizing the need for each man to enter into deep private prayer with God, as He demonstrated numerous times (Mt 14:23; Mk 1:35). Jesus finishes by emphasizing the need to fast, promising God sees and rewards humble fasting of men.
Jesus condemns the hypocrites who make a public spectacle of almsgiving, prayer and fasting to bring attention to themselves; those who seek public glory for pious acts lose their Heavenly reward. Jesus does not condemn public acts which draw men together in God: He desires for men to do good deeds to proclaim His Name (Mt 5:16); Jesus and His Holy Catholic Church emphasize the practice of communal prayer (Mt 18:20; Acts 1:12-14); the Church has appointed days of communal fasting.
Be awed by Jesus Christ
Be awed by Jesus as He commands men as to how to perform spiritually productive acts of Religion (a part of Justice): Son of God, Jesus speaks with absolute Authority to correct long-established, but incorrectly taken, acts of Religion; Divine King, Jesus Courageously (a part of Fortitude) Condemns the powerful, Harshly calling them hypocrites (pretenders) for their vain and false religious practices; Divine Priest, Jesus reveals how to properly Sacrifice (a part of Justice) when Giving Alms (a Corporal Work of Mercy), praying and fasting.
Be generous and anonymous in giving
Realize: Many men in the modern world pridefully seek glory and honor by conspicuous “charity” to gain attention and applause; Jesus warns that while those who make a public spectacle of their showy giving may receive worldly reward, they can lose the vastly superior eternal reward of Heaven (Mt 6:1-4).
Believe: Reflect upon Giving in Secret (CCC 1693, 1969, 2462).
Pray: Jesus, Perfection of Humility, help me build the Virtue of Humility (a part of Temperance) so I always realize everything I have comes from You, I obediently and generously offer what You have given me to others, and I give without drawing attention to myself.
Sacrifice for Christ by prayer and fasting
Realize: Despite Christ’s clear direction and the Church’s constant encouragement, most Catholic men do not make the minimal personal sacrifice to pray or fast on a regular basis; every Catholic man can experience the peace and happiness that comes from drawing closer to Jesus in prayer and mastering his craving through fasting.
Believe: Reflect upon the call to Daily Prayer (CCC 2659-2660, 2744-2745) and regular Fasting (CCC 1434, 1969, 2043, 2742).
Pray: Almighty Father, help me build the Virtues of Sacrifice (a part of Justice) and Fortitude so I courageously persevere to sacrifice for You, setting aside time for daily prayer and regularly denying myself by fasting (an act of Mortification), consistent with my vocation and health, to draw ever nearer to You.