Note: I wrote this on Ash Wednesday but it didn't occur to me to post it until now. I think its applicable for all of Lent though.
The Gospel for today was, as it always is today, the passage about not parading your works before men, not putting on a gaunt face when fasting and so on. It occured to me this depends very much on one's context. Our Lord, of course, was speaking to an audience for whom the externals of religion were badges of honour, things to be proud of.
In another context, however, this may be entirely reversed. In a hostile context, showing forth these sort of external signs of faith can be precisely the opposite. Far from being fuel for vanity, they become a source of humiliation, a persistent check on pride.
The trick is discerning which situation one happens to be in at any given moment. So you ought to pray where anyone can see you if you're Daniel in Babylon, but should go into your private room to pray if you find yourself in first-century Galilee.
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