I have known just one or two people in my life, who knowing the scriptures from childhood have always persevered in keeping their ways of living as close to the scriptures as they possibly could. These would be the ones who did not use ‘planned giving envelopes’ for their weekly giving, or use Standing orders at the bank …. but gave anyway week in week out, willingly and cheerfully. They simply did not want anyone to know what they gave.
The same people could also be relied on to be generous with time spent in a quiet corner doing useful work they didn’t want praise or credit for. You may know a few people like that, but it won’t be many.
Our times are not the times of our Lord, our times are times of celebs, and the desire for at least 20 minutes fame.
Today’s Appointed Gospel Reading for Holy Communion
Be careful not to parade your uprightness in public to attract attention; otherwise you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give alms do not have it trumpeted before you; this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win human admiration. In truth I tell you they have had their reward. But when you give alms, your left hand should not know what your right is doing ; your almsgiving must be in secret, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.
And when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites: they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues and at the street corners for people to see them. In truth I tell you they have had their reward. But when you pray, go to your private room, shut yourself in and so pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.
When you are fasting do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do: they go about looking unsightly to let people know they are fasting. In truth I tell you they have had their reward. But when you fast, put scent on your head and wash your face, so that no one will know you are fasting except your Father who sees all that is done in secret, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.#1
These gentle words from our wise a Teacher, instruct us, in fact, to do the very opposite to the norms of our society. He promises no prizes for self promotion, even in generous giving, eloquent public prayer, and self denial of the hungry kind. He points out, not unkindly that people who ‘like others to know what their right hand is doing’ whether in giving or service are paid in full in this life now, in other words they do these things for public applause and get it!
Whereas, the one who gives secretly does it to meet some need in the knowledge that this is a loving duty owing to our Father, and that the Father who knows all secrets knows the true prayer our hearts are praying, and He alone answers prayer.
Maybe to ‘do all for God’ is the hardest thing a Christian is called to do. Prayer is the incense offered on the Father’s altar, the precious grains of the Prayer which the angel offers is ‘purified from self interest’ – it is the best we can give. Given not for reward but in love and for love of the One who freely gives us all good things.
One thing I have asked of the Lord,
This is what I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life;
To behold the beauty of the Lord
And to seek Him in His temple.
Lord, give us a heart like that of Jesus,
A heart, believing, true and clean,
A heart and secret room fit to receive our Royal Guest,
Cleanse us from all earthly desire and ambition that we may
Seek only your Throne and offer up our purest worship their
In the knowledge that it is only by the Blood of Jesus,
We can enter in to the Most Holy Place.
Flowers arranged by Carole Annetts/Vera Round (St Giles Flower Arrangers)
Prayer from St Giles Intercessions Team
#2 Reading from Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-18
New Jerusalem Bible used