Wednesday of the Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time – Mt 6:1-6, 16-18
Today’s Gospel is the usual one for Ash Wednesday, and it reminds us of the need for praying, fasting, and almsgiving. These deeds are not simply for Lent, but rather for all times in the year. However, there is a phrase that Jesus uses six times in today’s Gospel which is worth considering. Six times he uses some form of the Greek word κρυπτῷ, meaning secret or hidden, in the formula that the deeds done in secret might be seen by God who sees in secret.
We might often think of how God sees and knows all things, especially our sins and failings. This is certainly true, but, as Jesus points out, the Father also sees and knows all the good things that we do: He sees the silent struggles we win, the hidden temptations we overcome, the anxious worries that we face and how, when instead of turning to ourselves, we turn to Him and ask that His will be done. He knows all of these things as well, these hidden crosses that we bear, and He will not let any of these small acts of faith and love go unrewarded.
This certainty that God knows everything should bring us, not to a profound fear of God’s justice, but rather to love Him more perfectly, since He sees even the simplest of actions done with great love. Saint Therese of Lisiuex wrote that “all of God’s perfections appear to be resplendent with love; even His Justice (and perhaps this even more so than the others) seems to me clothed in love. What a sweet joy it is to think that God is Just, that is, that He takes into account our weakness, that He is perfectly aware of our fragile nature. What should I fear then?” Of course, love is repaid by love, and part of love means avoiding doing things that harm the beloved, so, we must certainly avoid sin, but “perfect love casts out fear,” as Saint John writes. It is not enough simply to avoid sin because we feel bad afterwards or because we don’t want to suffer eternal consequences. No, what God wants for us is to be so in love with Him that the thought of sin doesn’t even cross our minds as an option; He wants us to love Him as He loved us, “to the end.” We can ask ourselves: are we more inclined to fear God or to love Him? Why is it that we try to avoid sin? Do I really think of God as a loving father who wants the best for me?
Today, let us ask for the grace, through the intercession of Mary, Queen of Love, to truly come to love God and reflect it in our actions.