Let’s face it; we all want at one time or another to be seen in a good light by others. Doing good deeds or being kind comes quite naturally to some people. Some of us have to work at it – at least sometimes. Being grumpy can be a by-product of many things: bad news, our job, being in physical pain or just the weather…but those are the days it’s better if we can stay home and curl up under the covers until the sun comes out again for us.
Today’s gospel is a call to look at ourselves and our motivations. Jesus actually speaks about this more than once in Matthew’s gospel. He does not mince words; his meaning is clear and calls for real honesty in response. He’s talking today, as often happens, about “the scribes and the Pharisees” and tells his disciples not to follow their example because “all their works are performed to be seen.” I feel a little twinge when I read that sentence so that tells me to look at my behaviors today, to be aware of what I’m doing and saying and why, doing my best to be sure that all my actions flow from my authentic self rather than from what I think others expect me to be, do and say. As a guide, I take a quote from Shakespeare that has been with me for years:
This above all: to thine own self be true. And it must follow, as the night the day. Thou canst not then be false to any man. (Hamlet, Act 1 Scene 3)