11th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday (Year II)
2 Kings 2:1-14, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
“But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
Jesus’ command sounded strange to his hearers then and now. How can one hand be ignorant of the other?
Or if we ask the question in reverse: How does the left hand know what the right hand is doing? Why are humans self-conscious?
The injunction follows the exhortation not to perform righteous deeds in order to be seen or win the praise of others. Pure actions proceed spontaneously without ulterior motives or self-satisfaction. Children of the Father are good without even knowing it.
In the paradisal state, goodness is not even a category. The mind recognizes “good” only because it also recognizes “evil.” Consciousness of the good spiraled out from the “knowledge of good and evil,” the splitting of the original, one-pointed mind. Communion in the deified state will know nothing of either goodness or evil, love or hate, kindness or unkindness. When the Trinity is all in all, distinctions and categories disappear. Love is a reality, not a category.
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.
Distinctions between an “inner” and an “outer” room also resulted from Adam’s breakdown. In personal communion there are no outside individuals to impress. We commune with the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit as one Body of Christ. In the silent prayer of the heart, we can begin to quiet the senses and let go of the vanity of public image.
But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to others to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”
We are called to develop a hidden interior life in the heart of the Father. Life in the Trinity is a personal friendship, and intimacy is a privilege of persons. Jesus gave us a hint of what this means when he refused to divulge John’s destiny to Peter (John 21:22). Each of us is called to a particular and unique friendship unlike any other—a secret known only to the Father. We are wasting time when we look for human applause or compare ourselves with one another. The way to unity among human persons is to turn to the Person of the Father first. In the Father’s heart, personal union and communion are forged.
Elijah’s glorious assumption into heaven shows us that heaven is not so far away. We can begin to find heaven in our heart and in our midst through hidden prayer today: “For behold, the kingdom of God is among you” (Luke 17:21).