Wednesday 17 June 2015

Your Father will reward you

The reading of today, from the gospel of Matthew, ch. 6:

Concerning Almsgiving

6 “Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
“Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Concerning Prayer

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their rewardBut when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.[a]

Concerning Fasting

16 “And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

My question: What is the reward that Jesus talks about? A hint from what the father says to the elder son, who complains that he has been given nothing, in the famous parable of the Prodigal Son: "You have been with me always, and all I have is yours." The reward seems to be "being with the Father always". And more: if James Alison is right, and the "joy that was set before him" was the joy of seeing all men and women, good bad and ugly, together with the Father, then the reward is "being with God and with all our brothers and sisters." 

While Jesus speaks in images, and while when he says heaven we often think of a place up there, questions like the ones above lead us to glimpse what he is pointing us to, and it is wonderful. Heaven, as Ratzinger says, begins already now. It is a being with. And as Plascencia says, Salesian presence is an anticipation of heaven, because it is a mediation of this being with God and with all our brothers and sisters.

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