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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Today’s Reading | Matthew 6:16–21

“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (NRSV)

As humans we crave attention and long to be noticed. It’s natural to share our good news with others, but even more common to share what’s bothering us. The feeling of release is somewhat refreshing when we’re struggling to overcome some obstacle. But as Matthew reflects in this scripture, what do we really gain from our external lamentations? The real challenge we face is that of humility and solitude with God. God already knows our struggles, our hopes, and our failures, but it seems a tall order to personally acknowledge them internally. Theologian Henri Nouwen once said, “As soon as we are alone, inner chaos opens up in us. This chaos can be so disturbing and so confusing that we can hardly wait to get busy again. . . . We often use the outer distractions to shield ourselves from the interior noises. This makes the discipline of solitude all the more important.”

Those distractions, our “treasures on earth,” prevent us from truly opening up to God and, more importantly, to ourselves. We are in this human experience for such a short time, and our treasures on earth can’t compare to the treasures of faith and relationship with God, which is eternal and ever-growing. Let us be open to Matthew’s call for humble hearts and trusted faith in God.

God, guide me toward humble solitude, and allow me to find peace amidst the inner chaos that lies within. My true treasure lies not in earthly distractions, but in your hands and my ever-thriving relationship with you. Amen.

Written by Jackie Lorens, Director,
  Chicago Lights Elam Davies Social Service Center

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