Why do I do the things that I do? What is my motivation when I’m doing the right thing, the
good thing? Am I doing these things “in order that people may see them”?
Unfortunately, the answer to that question can oftentimes be “Yes” – perhaps more often than I would care to admit.
It is particularly during this time of Lent that I must look carefully at what I do and why I do it.
This is the time for that transformation of spirit – the metanoia – that Jesus repeatedly calls all of
us to throughout the Gospels and during the Sermon on the Mount in particular.
No one – including Jesus, I think – would argue that prayer, fasting, and almsgiving should never
be done in public, that we should hide these things from others. That would be like putting the
lamp under the bushel basket. (Although sometimes, my students unsuccessfully try to use some
pretzel logic to interpret this to mean that they do not have to go to church, as that would be
praying in public.)
Rather, we are called to examine the spirit in which we do these things. Are these actions really about God and others – or are they about ourselves?
As we begin the Lenten journey to Easter, we must keep in mind Jesus’ admonition about the spirit with which we undertake to follow His example.