(Joel 2:12-18; II Corinthians 5:20-6:2; Matthew 6:1-6.16-18)
An administrator at the University of Notre Dame once complained how hard it was to receive large grants for scholarships and other kinds of special funds. He said that there were plenty of benefactors willing to put up seven figure sums for buildings that they would bear their names, but few who would give more “in secret” as Jesus recommends in the gospel today.
We should not see the shortcoming as endemic to the wealthy. Most everyone wants to have his or her good deeds noticed. It is a way of hedging one’s faith investment. If God does not care about our goodness or does not exist as atheists say, then at least other people may give us some credit for our efforts. Such a disposition bespeaks the searing need for Lent.
Now is the time to think deeply about our lives. We know that God exists because we are. More importantly, we assert that God has sent His son Jesus to save us from folly because of the blessings we have received following him. But it is more accurate to say “half-heartedly following” Jesus. We not only like to be seen doing good as he warns against but also refuse to eradicate our less reprehensible sins that separate us from full communion with God and neighbor. We have these forty days expressly for repenting of these unfaithful ways and recommitting ourselves unreservedly to the Lord.