Gospel – Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
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,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
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.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
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.”

Reflection by Mr. Lewis Clark of La Salle College High School, Wyndmoor, PA

Facebook.  Twitter.  Instagram. It seems like an attention driven culture has permeated our daily lives.  All that we do is being broadcasted to our “followers” in hopes for “likes” or comments on our social media pages.  Birthdays, family events, children’s achievements, and vacation pictures are proudly shared for all to see. However, it’s not just the big moments.  Even our mundane experiences are shared for the world to see: a picture of our latest meal, a trip to the mall, or a tv show to name just a few.  This phenomenon is not related to just our personal lives.  Those of us in ministries know the importance of sharing on social media all the good that our students or clients are doing in the community, on the stage, or on the athletic field.  Someone once said to me, “It didn’t happen if it wasn’t shared on social media.”

Yet, as we begin Lent, Jesus is calling us to do the exact opposite.  During this special time of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, Jesus discourages us from boasting about our efforts.  We don’t need everyone to know we are volunteering at a local soup kitchen, attending mass more frequently, or foregoing that steak on Fridays during Lent.  The attention isn’t needed but the actions don’t go unnoticed by the One who matters.  Jesus explains, “Your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”

Of course, humility isn’t easy in our social media driven lives.  But maybe this is a special time to step away from the spotlight and to focus on quietly living the Gospel.  As a Lasallian educator for over two decades, there have been many fine examples of humble service to our Lord.  I remember fondly Br. James Rieck, F.S.C., a Christian Brother for over 50 years!  He was beloved administrator, admissions director, teacher, and mentor (as well as my former principal).  He almost always had a camera in his hand and garnered the nickname “Brother Kodak.”  Behind the camera and focused on others, he never wanted the spotlight.  He lived his vocation as a Christian Brother with tremendous faith and zeal in service to “those entrusted to his care.”

His life is a reminder this lent to forgo the tweets and posts and to focus on living the Gospel simply and humbly.

Questions for Reflection

What does my social media use say about me?

Who in my life quietly lives the Gospel away from the spotlight?

How can I live the Gospel simply and humbly this Lent?

About Lew Clark

Lew ClarkLew Clark is the Director of Mission and Ministry at La Salle College High School in Wyndmoor, PA.  He has a graduate of Lasallian schools on the secondary, undergraduate, and graduate level.