A chariot of fire appeared, and Elijah went up into heaven.
A reading from the second Book of Kings 2 Kings 2:1.6-14
Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. [They came to Jericho, and] Elijah said to Elisha, “Tarry here, I beg you; for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the sons of the prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his coat, and rolled it up, and struck the water, and the water was parted to the one side and to the other, till the two of them could go over on dry ground. When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “I beg you, let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” And he said, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if you do not see me, it shall not be so.” And as they still went on and talked, behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it and cried, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen! ” And he saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. And he took up the coat of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. Then he took the coat of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” And when he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other; and Elisha went over.
The word of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm 31:20.21.24 (R. 25)
R/. Be strong, let your heart take courage, all who hope in the Lord.
How great is the goodness, Lord,
that you keep for those who fear you,
that you show to those who trust you
in the sight of the children of men. R.
You hide them in the shelter of your presence,
secure from human scheming;
you keep them safe within your tent
from disputing tongues. R.
Love the Lord, all you his saints.
The Lord guards the faithful.
But the Lord will repay to the full
the one who acts with pride. R.
ALLELUIA John 14:23
Alleluia. If a man loves me, he will keep my word, says the Lord; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him. Alleluia.
“Your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (Matthew 6:1-6. 16- 18)
At that time: Jesus said to his disciples, “Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street comers, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
The Gospel of the Lord
Almsgiving, prayer and fasting indicate three key relationships in Christian living. Almsgiving portrays a relationship to the other, prayer to God, and fasting to the self. Almsgiving, prayer and fasting are not virtues or rituals to be trumpeted or paraded but unique signs of relationship between God, others and self to be celebrated in perfect harmony. When Jesus gave, he gave everything including his own life; fasting strengthened him to overcome all the temptations; and prayer kept him always in communion with his father. Let our observance of these relationships help us to develop a Christ-like character that enables us to experience a personal relationship with God.