Psalms 112:1-2, 3-4, 9
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
Most of us, when we are children, experience the love and help of our fathers. And as we grow up we have happy memories of our fathers and the good things they did for us. We love them and feel close to them. Today's scripture readings invite us to think of God in the same way, as a loving father who loves us and wants to do always what is best for us. The more we can learn to see God as our father, the closer our relationship with him will become and the more we will appreciate his love for us and seek to love him in return.
In the first scripture reading, we learn from St. Paul that God loves a cheerful giver. Paul exhorts his readers to give generously, cheerfully, and willingly. He tells them that God will reward those who do so. Paul uses the example of a farmer who plants, or sows, his seed because this image is one that was familiar to his readers. Those of us who work the land can identify with this image. For myself, I find it easier to identify with another image used often in the New Testament. It's the image of the good shepherd. It's not that I am familiar with sheep raising. But the good shepherd who searches for his lost sheep demonstrates great love and concern, and I can identify with that. God is the good shepherd; he really and truly cares about the sheep just as a good father cares for his children. As Paul says, God will provide for the cheerful giver in abundance and will increase his generous yield. God will be a good father to such a generous giver.
In the gospel reading, we learn that we are to act out of love and in a humble manner that does not seek praise or applause. If we do that, then like a good father, God will reward us. In this reading, there is an echo of several other stories that Jesus told during his preaching here on earth. The story of the pharisee and the publican, and the story of Dives and Lazarus. Dives and the pharisee are like the hypocrites that Jesus speaks of here. They were repaid for their hypocrisy, but in a way that was far from pleasant. The real reward went to Lazarus and the publican. They went to see and live with God in heaven. This reading speaks of three ways in which we are to become God's children, worthy of his love. They are alms-giving, prayer, and fasting. These three are traditional christian practices, and in practicing them we act as loving children of God. We show God, our loving father, that we are worthy of reward and of his love.
Today's readings help me to see God as a loving father, and they
help me to look forward to the reward God gives his children, a reward
that all of us desire so ardently.
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