In Jesus’ day, the word “hypocrites” didn’t really have any bad connotations. Actually, it just meant an actor in a play. Hypocrite literally means “one who is under a mask”, because actors in Greek plays would always wear masks to show which character they are playing.
But Jesus draws a comparison between these actors and people who say one thing and do another. The person behind the mask doesn’t match up with what the rest of the world sees! The world sees a pious person praying, but the person is just doing it to seek attention. The world sees a generous giver, but their motivation is human praise. Thus, they are actors, hiding behind masks.
Today, you and I will receive a “mask”. We will receive a visible, outward sign that will show to everyone in the world that we are Christian. But are we? Does our forehead say we are followers of Christ, but our life say otherwise?
These ashes are not just some empty custom or “culturally Catholic” thing. They are a tangible sign that we are repenting of our sins and sincerely seeking to love and serve God. Will these ashes become an outward sign of our inward repentance? Or will they just be the mask of a hypocrite?
“This Lent put your ashes into action.”
— Fr. Goyo (@FrGoyo) February 27, 2020