Monday, May 7, 2012

Monday in Easter 5: The "secret" of the kingdom

Opening Sentence
Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57

Collect of the Day
Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Psalter: Psalm 56, 57, [58]

Lessons: Leviticus 16:1-19; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Outward appearances meant everything to the "hypocrites" who were always exalting themselves over everyone else. They wanted others to praise them for practicing their "righteousness" openly. When they gave to the needy, they made sure everyone knew about it. When they prayed, they stood in the synagogues and loudly proclaimed their thanksgiving to God for having not made them like other people. When they fasted, they wanted everyone to know it by the gloomy countenance on their faces.

Such persons got exactly what they wanted. They were praised by others for their outward piety. But inwardly, they were still the same. All their acts of righteousness gained them noting but the accolades of the crowds. Jesus warns against this kind of false religiosity. The kind of "righteousness" that truly honors God is that which is practiced not in public, but in secret.

Give to the needy, but let the joy of giving be its own reward. Cultivate a life of prayer, but keep your focus on God, not yourself.

Spend your prayer time in secret, where you can be open and honest with God about your faults, your failures, your struggles, as well as be genuinely thankful for his blessings.

Practice fasting, but don't make it a public spectacle. Glorify God in your fasting by maintaining an outward appearance that reflects the inward joy you receive from walking daily in his presence.

The "secret" of the kingdom of God, the path to perfection and holiness, is the inner life of constant communion with God. The "righteousness" we practice outwardly is to be a reflection of the righteousness God is cultivating within us through the work of his Holy Spirit, forming and shaping us into the image and likeness of Christ.

(JAG)

Sweet Hour of Prayer