The Big Three: Chapter 6: 1-18

At the beginning of Chapter 6, St. Matthew writes about the Lenten Big Three:  Almsgiving, Prayer & Fasting.  Let’s see what he has to say, shall we?

(6: 1-18)  Jesus reaffirms these three traditional works of mercy. (CCC 1434; 1969)  He does not challenge these practices in themselves.  He warns against performing them for public esteem. (CCC 1430)

(CCC 1969)  the new law practices the arts of religion:  almsgiving, prayer, and fasting, directing them to the “Father who sees in secret” in contrast with the desire to “be seen by men.”  Its prayer is the Our Father.

Concerning Almsgiving

(6: 2): give alms:  alms are charitable gifts given to the poor.  The exercise of one’s faith CAN be public so long as it flows from proper intentions.  (CCC 2447)

(CCC 2447)  Giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity; it is also a work of justice pleasing to God.”

He who has two coats. let him share with him who has none; and he who has food must do likewise.  But give for alms those things which are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.

Concerning Prayer

(6: 5-15)  The Our Father is such an important prayer, that my Wednesday blog will cover this alone.

Concerning Fasting

(6: 17)  anoint your head:  Fasting was often a public practice accompanies by wearing sackcloth and putting ashes on one’s head.  (Esther 4: 3; Dan 9: 3)  Hypocrites utilized this to appear devout to others.  Washing and anointing outwardly symbolize happiness and disguise one’s inner commitment to God.  (Ruth 3:3; Ps 23: 5; Is 6: 1-3; CCC 1438)

(CCC 1438)  The seasons and days of penance in the course of the liturgical year (Lent and each Friday in memory of the death of Our Lord) are intense moments of the Church’s penitential practice.  These times are particularly appropriate for spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving, and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works.)

The Return of the Prodigal Son.

The Return of the Prodigal Son.

Next time:  Matthew 6: 5-15

Study Question:  How is the Our Father divided?  What are the 7 petitions?

Meditation:  “. . .and the greatest of these is love!”

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Filed under Almsgiving, Catholic, Christian, Fasting, Lent, Prayer, Sacrifice

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