‘Let us adore the Lord, for it is he who made us.’ (Invitatory antiphon).
‘Never let your left hand know what your right hand is doing’; this is a popular phrase used in different contexts. In the Biblical sense it means, ‘doing good for God alone.’
St Louise de Marillac, co-foundress of the Daughters of Charity with St Vincent de Paul (1633) and Patroness of Christian Social Workers, was ever conscious of the presence of Jesus Christ in the person of the poor. She urged the Sisters in their serving others, to do so with ‘gentleness and respect.’ She warned them of ‘troublesome self-love’ cautioning them that ‘it causes us to lose our perspective and even at time to forget God.’
God provides many opportunities for people to serve Godself in the person of the poor. God wants the hearts and the love of those who serve God by practicing God’s ‘goodness, gentleness and charity towards their neighbour.’
St Louise taught the Sisters that one’s life may be solely for Jesus and for one’s neighbour so that, ‘by means of this unifying love, I may love all that Jesus loves.’
That gave meaning to St Louise’s prayer, fasting and almsgiving in secret, as today’s Gospel proclaims.
The reading from the second Book of Kings (2 Kings 2:1, 6-14) and the Gospel (Mt 6:1-6) are proclaimed at Mass via webcam or read in the Old and New Testament.
The first reading tells how Elijah was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind.
In the Gospel Jesus teaches the disciple the spirit of working for God alone. In Jesus’ eyes, the disciple does everything for God and keeps God at the centre of their lives. Disciples should not be seen to be praying, doing a fast or giving alms or parading their good deeds. This would make them look like hypocrites. Their left hand must not know what their right hand is doing. It suffices that God alone will see the good work that goes on. In his humility and selflessness, Jesus models this for the disciples.
SEEK GOD’S LOVE IN THE GROW IN LOVE RELIGIOUS EDUCATION PROGRAMME
This Scripture (Mt 6:1-6) is included in the Grow in Love programme for Third Class/P5, in the lesson entitled, ‘Jesus the Teacher’. Children are taught that the first time people heard Jesus speak in public was when he was in the synagogue reading the words (Lk 4:18-9) from the prophet Isaiah. This leads children to identify Jesus as the anointed one, the Christ, the promised Messiah for whom people have been waiting.
Jesus does not come with power, authority and might but he comes humbly and confidently, as one of the people, a carpenter’s son from a nondescript place called Nazareth. Jesus explains to the people what his mission is, what he is about. As a teacher he proclaims the Good News about the Kingdom of God being near. This is the mission in which the disciples will share. Children identify that mission as theirs also as they follow the way of Jesus.
The children are taught that Jesus was a Jew and was brought up in the Jewish faith. He was like any other child of his time. He lived in a family, prayed, played, went to school, heard and read stories from the Hebrew and he worshipped in the synagogue. He celebrated the Jewish festivals and feasts. He loved God the Father and prayed to him. He taught his disciples to pray the Our Father. Today children might be encouraged to pray Our Father/Ár nAthair.
In First Class P/3, Third Class/P5, Fifth Class children are taught about the Jewish faith tradition.
Children read about Jesus attending the Jewish Festival of Passover with his family and neighbours. As well as teaching the people in the synagogue, Jesus taught them in the fields, beside the lake, in the boat, and on the mountains. He continues to teach his disciples. Children recall such places where Jesus taught and they recall what he taught about prayer, fasting, forgiveness, almsgiving, love and the Kingdom of God. They discuss how Jesus continues to teach, what he teaches and where this happens.
Some people believed in the teachings of Jesus but not everyone did.
In first century Palestine, Rabbi was the title given to a teacher who taught in a synagogue. The rabbi was an expert on the Torah, the Jewish sacred scripture, could decide Jewish law and could lead the Jewish people in prayer. Jesus was frequently called Rabbi.
The children explore what Jesus taught about prayer, fasting and almsgiving and why it was in secret.
They explore the word secret in terms of not hiding but being humble and not showing off.
They reflect on the experiences of prayer, almsgiving and fasting in their lives. They will not always pray in secret because on occasion they will pray with others. Sometimes almsgiving and fasting are associated with the Lenten season but times of fasting and abstinence are part of the Church teaching throughout the Liturgical Year. Children reflect on what happens in their lives when they pray, fast and give alms. What does this teach disciples? Why do disciples do this? Why does Jesus ask disciples to do this?
In inter religious education children will learn about the Jewish and Islam traditions of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
Children are introduced to the lives of the saints at each level of the Grow in Love programme.
St Louise de Marillac is included.
Resources on the VERITAS website support the prayer, fasting and almsgiving of the Jewish, Christian and Islam faith traditions.
READ from Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé
‘Do everything for God Alone’ (Mt 6:1-6), ‘The Mission of Jesus’ (Lk 4:18-9)
‘The Summons’, ‘The Servant Song’, ‘Go Tell Everyone’, ‘Who Do You Say That I Am?’
PRAY with Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé
ST PATRICK’S BREASTPLATE
Christ be with me,
Christ be beside me,
Christ be before me,
Christ be behind me,
Christ be at my right hand,
Christ be at my left hand,
Christ be with me, wherever I go,
Christ be my friend forever and ever.
Críost I mo dhiaidh.
Críost ar mo lámh dheas.
Críost ar mo lámh chlé.
Críost I mo chuideachta is cuma cá dtéim.
Críost mar chara agam, anois go buan. Áiméan.
‘Show us your mercy, O Lord; remember your holy covenant.’ (Benedictus antiphon).
‘The Almighty has done great things for me; Holy is his name.’ (Magnificat antiphon).
‘Let your heart take courage; all who hope in the Lord.’ (Psalm 30:25).
“If we scan the regions of our planet, we immediately see that humanity has disappointed God’s expectations.”’ (Laudato Si’, no. 61).
‘O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.’
Sr Anne Neylon