By Gina Gaudet
The season of Lent began on Ash Wednesday, February 14. The gospel for this day was from the Sermon on the Mount. This teaching of Jesus focuses on how we pray, how we fast and how we give.
In Jesus’ time it was not only common, but socially expected that almsgiving, a Lent practice of prayer, fasting and charity, was publicly announced, praying was loud on street corners, and fasting was accompanied by ash-covered faces and a sorrowful demeanor. When Jesus described such people as “hypocrites,” he was actually comparing them to actors. The Greek root word for “hypocrite” actually refers to play-acting.
Jesus was stressing that these current practices actually turned the spiritual life into theater. And we’re all familiar with ancient Greek theater! An actor’s reward is public appreciation of his performance. The “reward” for private spiritual practice is a deep and abiding relationship with one’s Creator. For the season of Lent, this story addresses the idea of authenticity.
Our spiritual practices can change over time as our spiritual hunger requires. Sometimes, it is a deep meditation. Other times, it may be a commitment to reading the Bible, walking a labyrinth, singing in choir, taking yoga, or joining a prayer group; any of these can help us on our way.
And because your spiritual life is “secret,” your practice can change without any guilt or concern about how others might respond to your choices. Your reward is your great secret, which you share with your Creator. This is the meaning of spiritual authenticity.
Here is your invitation: in this season of Lent, step with great purpose and intention onto your own secret path and your Creator, who abides in the secret places of your heart, will reward you.