ENFL042

Ash Wednesday

Testimony, not ostentation 

When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing … And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that  others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. “When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites” …Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.  Mt 6,2-6.16-18

Today Matthew encourages us to reflect on the difference between the testimony and the flaunting of the faith. If the gospel is to be proclamation and witness, if we need to shout about on the roofs what is being whispered and if the light of Christ must not be hidden under a bushel, why Jesus tells us that the alms and the prayer must be hidden? The fact is that the line watershed between the testimony and the ostentation does not pass through the preacher of the gospel, but through the attitudes generated in the recipients of the message. The real evangelic message generates acceptance in those who accepted the gospel and a willingness of persecution in those who reject it; if it is ostentation, it is considered only opportunism, desire to get publicity and it does not generate anything. Why the same act can be implemented in such different way by those who receive it? We believe that the crux of this dilemma can be dissolved thinking of a “saying” of grandma Rita: “Advertising is carried on by the people who need it”. In this statement, which reflects all of Tuscanity grandmother’s, peeps the difference between testimony and ostentation: it is called “coherence”. Almsgiving, prayer and fasting, of which the today’s gospel speaks, are testimony only if they are reflected in the consistency of the real life. Then – as far as the appearance is concerned – the testimony is always discreet, while the ostentation is evidently showy, as Jesus frankly points out today.

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