The prophet Joel wrote a very brief but compelling addition to the Hebrew Scriptures. We hear him today very much in a hurry to move people to repentance. After his affirmation of God’s willingness to forgive what seems a serious period of disregard for good behavior (“Even now“, says the Lord, “return to me with your whole heart…”) Joel blasts forth imperatives to call all the people to attention. “Blow the trumpet. Proclaim a fast. Call an assembly. Gather the people. Notify the congregation. Assemble the elders. Gather the children. Let the bridegroom quit his chamber…” Clearly, Joel sees this moment as paramount for salvation.
In Matthew’s gospel this morning we find advice of a quieter kind. Jesus says, “Do not blow a trumpet before you…” and “Don’t let your left hand know what your right is doing” as you go about doing good. The time is past for us to be showy about our good works but the day is just beginning for the necessity of greatness of heart. Look for nothing in return for your good deeds. Just turn to Jesus as a model and practice what he preached. Make this Lent about conversion of heart in small ways which will result in a transformation that may be imperceptible each day but will lead to a grand celebration of the Easter mysteries when we will know Christ in a deeper beating of our hearts. Love is always its own reward.