At the beginning of today’s Gospel reading there are some words of advice. Those words have to do with practices of Piety or devotion. “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Mt. 6:1) This advice follows through the next few paragraphs which have to do with alms giving, prayer, and other practices of devotion and the reward for such practices.
From an early age I had been taught that some of the early chapters of the Gospel according to Matthew, 5 through 7, are known as the Sermon on the Mount. Those words give to us some of the basic teachings of Jesus from early in his ministry. The teachings in today’s Gospel Reading are those which have to do with familiar practices of piety and worship and the rewards related with them
II Cor. 9:6-11 and Matt. 6:1-6, 16-18
Yesterday one of the students in the class I am teaching this week raised the question of whether we should strive to be happy. Is happiness something we should desire, something we should seek? Is it selfish to want to be happy?
We live in a culture that constantly encourages us to seek our own happiness, and which bombards us with images of what happiness looks like. Smiling, care-free people show us how happy we will be when we own this shiny new car, when we wear this expensive jewelry, when we visit this exotic vacation spot, when we try this new medication, when we open this refreshing can of soda!