Are We Hypocrites?

Lost and Found

“Lost and Found” by Greg Olsen. Used with Permission. www.GregOlsen.com

Gospel – February 26, 2020 – 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 alms-giving 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.”

What is Jesus saying to us today?

Today, as we enter our Holy Season of Lent – Season of Repentance – are we just acting our part of repentant sinner?

Jesus is known for using hyperbole as a tool to drive home a point – a lesson he wants the people (his apostles) to absorb. Do you think he is being hyperbolic today?

If you think his use of “hypocrites” time and again is over the top – okay – I’ll give you that but that isn’t hyperbole – overstating a point. He’s addressing the same point over and over about a certain “type” of person.

Do you know what the word “hypocrite” comes from? I didn’t either so I looked it up.

It comes from the Medieval Latin hypocriticus, which was derived from Greek hypokritikós “of acting, skilled in rhetorical delivery,” from hypokritḗs “answerer, actor on a stage”.

Isn’t that interesting? Jesus is saying that we shouldn’t be acting like we are doing penance so that everyone thinks we are dong good. We would be like actors acting out a part in a play.

He is saying we should be doing penance but no one needs to know we are doing penance.

But what about the cross of ashes on our foreheads you ask? Well, when we wear the cross upon our forehead it isn’t to garner attention. It is our scarlet A that the adulterers wore for committing adultery. We aren’t looking for praise and respect. We are admitting our sins and our sinfulness and accepting our brokenness. We are admitting our unworthiness for all to see. The cross isn’t a badge of honor – it is our shame for having hurt our God. Not acting but true shame.

We admit to God in private and do our penance the same so that when he sees he knows it is for him – not the world.

At least that’s what I heard Him say…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: