Mark 6:1-6, 16-18 Almsgiving, Prayer, Fasting

In Christian morality, there is a principle that states: a human act that is good in itself becomes morally evil when it is done for a wrong purpose and with bad intention. In today’s Gospel, Jesus denounced the act of doing the “right thing” with a wrong purpose. To illustrate his point Jesus used as examples the three pillars of Jewish religion on which the good life is based: almsgiving, prayer and fasting. Why are they considered three pillars of the Jewish religion. Because, to the Jews, when a person gives alms, prays and fasts he fulfills the law, becomes a righteous person and receives the reward of a just man.

Here, Jesus did not condemn the Jews in general and the scribes and Pharisees in particular for their devotions and good works. In fact, he even enjoined his disciples to keep on praying, fasting and giving alms or deeds of mercy because these are all good, virtuous, and praiseworthy in themselves . What Jesus really condemned is the act of doing  the right things with the wrong purpose. That is why he warned them of four dangers whey they perform their devotions and good works: hypocrisy, self-righteousness, arrogance, and ostentation (public display of devotion and good works for personal vain glory).

As we go on with the celebration of the Mass, let us pray to the Lord that we will not be tempted to multiply, exaggerate  and parade our devotions and good works in public for personal vainglory. Rather, let us ask for more graces from God that we can pursue and grow in our devotion to Christ and multiply our good works done with sincerity, humility and for the right purpose of glorifying God as the Lord said “Let your light shine before the people so that seeing your good works they may glorify your Father in Heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

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