Jesus talks of prayer, fasting, almsgiving - Catholic Courier
(Illustration by Linda Jean Rivers) (Illustration by Linda Jean Rivers)

Jesus talks of prayer, fasting, almsgiving

In this issue:
Jesus talks of prayer, fasting, almsgiving
Bible Accent: Prayer, fasting and almsgiving are important
Saint for Today: St. Ethelbert of Kent
Kids’ Club Essay Contest

Jesus talks of prayer, fasting, almsgiving

Reading of Feb. 14, 2018: Mt 6:1-6, 16-18

Great crowds followed Jesus wherever he went. People loved to hear him preach.

One day, he left the crowds and went up a mountain. He gathered his apostles around him and began to teach.

Jesus talked about many things. He said that being angry with another person is sinful. He assured those who were having hard lives on earth that they would find rest and peace in heaven. He even taught the people that they should love and pray for their enemies instead of hating them.

“So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect,” Jesus said.

Then Jesus talked about three things that were very important to the Jewish people: almsgiving, prayer and fasting.

Jesus said that God does not like it when people do righteous deeds just to look good in front of others.

For example, when giving to the poor, “do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others,”

Jesus said, referring to the scribes and Pharisees. “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 said the same thing regarding prayer.

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them,” he warned. “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.”

And he taught that those who are fasting shouldn’t look as if they were.

“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting,” he said. “But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

After Jesus was done teaching, he came down the mountain to the crowd and began to heal people.


Matthew 6


1. Where did Jesus go to teach?

2. Who were the hypocrites Jesus was speaking of?

Bible Accent: Prayer, fasting and almsgiving are important

The Bible contains many references to prayer, fasting and almsgiving. These were important practices of the Jews during biblical times, and they also are important to Catholics today.

For example, the church’s liturgical season of Lent focuses on prayer, fasting and almsgiving. These practices help us remember how Jesus suffered and died for our sins and was resurrected at Easter.

During Lent, Catholics do not eat meat on Fridays, and they fast and abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. This spiritual self-discipline is meant to help us focus on Easter.

Prayer also is an important part of Lent. One popular prayer is the Stations of the Cross, which uses Scripture to recall Jesus’ walk to his crucifixion at Golgotha.

Lent also is a time to focus on giving alms to the poor. One collection for the poor that is conducted during this time is CRS Rice Bowl, which is a Catholic Relief Services program.

Repenting of our sins also is a highlight of Lent. In the Bible, people who wanted to show God how sorry they were for their sins sometimes placed ashes on their heads. That is one reason why ashes, made in the sign of the cross, are imposed on our foreheads during Ash Wednesday liturgies.

Saint for Today: St. Ethelbert of Kent

St. Ethelbert of Kent (560-616) was the ruler of southern England. He married a Christian woman named Bertha, who was the daughter of the king of Paris. Before the king would let the couple wed, he made sure Ethelbert would allow Bertha to practice her faith. Ethelbert helped St. Augustine of Canterbury in his mission to evangelize England by giving him land to build churches and a monastery. Ethelbert became a Christian in 601, and we remember him on Feb. 24.


Kids’ Club Essay Contest

Kids, enter our essay contest for a chance to win a $25 gift card!

The essay question for February 2018 is: How do you pray to Jesus, and what do you pray for?

Send your essay — including name, home address, telephone number, school and grade — to Catholic Courier, PO Box 24379, Rochester, NY 14624.

All entries of 100 words or less must be received by the Catholic Courier no later than 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 21, 2018, to be considered for this contest. The winner, whose essay will be published in an upcoming print and online edition of Kids’ Chronicle, will be notified by phone.

Contest Rules

1. Essay content must be original and written by the entrant.

2. Essays cannot exceed 100 words in length.

3. Entrants must be no more than 14 years of age as of the last day of this contest.

4. Only one essay per entrant will be accepted during any given contest period.

5. Winners will be selected at the sole discretion of the Catholic Courier, and all decisions are final.

6. By submitting an essay, the entrant agrees to allow his or her name, grade level, school name and essay submission to be published online and/or in print at the discretion of the Catholic Courier.

7. Submitted essays that do not adhere to these rules, entries that do not include all required information or entries that are deemed inappropriate by the Catholic Courier will be disqualified.

8. At the discretion of the Catholic Courier, this contest may be modified or cancelled without notice at any time. 9. All entries become the property of the Catholic Courier.

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