When Jesus says that those who perform religious acts for human recognition are "repaid," he uses a Greek word which suggests commercial payment, that is, payment in full for a service rendered (Mt 6:2, 5, 16). As an example of this term, a plumber fixes your sink, and gets the full payment, but only that amount of pay. Jesus says that those who give alms, pray, and fast to further their reputation are looking for the wages of applause. So they get their satisfaction: the repayment. They get nothing more.
Jesus uses a different Greek word when He promises that when you keep your almsgiving, prayer, and fasting secret, your heavenly Father "will repay you" (Mt 6:4, 6, 18). This term means a reward of unspecified amount, determined only by the generosity of the Giver. The entire reward, if any, is up to the One Who is merciful and kind, gracious and unlimited in generosity (Ps 103:8; Ex 20:6; Mt 10:41-42; 2 Cor 9:10). He might give no reward whatsoever, or He might open "the floodgates of heaven, to pour down blessing upon you without measure" (Mal 3:10).
Will the focus of your self-denials this Lent be simply to get the repayment of feasting at Easter, or to receive the lavish outpoured reward of God? (see Ti 3:6). This Lent, place no limits on what the Lord wishes to do in your life. Give Him free reign in directing your prayer, fasting, charity, and suffering. Let Him speak, love, forgive, and work through you. Let Him bless you superabundantly.
|Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant the Imprimatur ("Permission to Publish") for One Bread, One Body covering the period from February 1, 2007 through March 31, 2007.
†Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 3, 2006 & September 18, 2006.