Secret fasting (Mt 6:17-6:18)

“When you fast,

Anoint your head!

Wash your face!

Thus,

Your fasting

May not be seen

By other men,

But by your Father,

Who is in secret.

Your Father,

Who sees in secret

Will reward you.”

 

σὺ δὲ νηστεύων ἄλειψαί σου τὴν κεφαλὴν καὶ τὸ πρόσωπόν σου νίψαι,

ὅπως μὴ φανῇς τοῖς ἀνθρώποις νηστεύων ἀλλὰ τῷ Πατρί σου τῷ ἐν τῷ κρυφαίῳ· καὶ ὁ Πατήρ σου ὁ βλέπων ἐν τῷ κρυφαίῳ ἀποδώσει σοι.

 

As earlier, Jesus, via Matthew, indicated that secret almsgiving and prayer were good.  Here now, unique to Matthew, Jesus said to fast in secret (σὺ δὲ νηστεύων).  They should anoint their heads (ἄλειψαί σου τὴν κεφαλὴν) and wash their faces (καὶ τὸ πρόσωπόν σου νίψαι,).  Thus, no one would know that they were fasting (ὅπως μὴ φανῇς τοῖς ἀνθρώποις νηστεύων).  However, their father (ἀλλὰ τῷ Πατρί σου) in secret (τῷ ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ) would know.  Like in the almsgiving and praying, their Father would be able to see them in secret (καὶ ὁ Πατήρ σου ὁ βλέπων ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ).  Thus, he would also reward them (ἀποδώσει σοι), so that their reward would be in heaven, not here.  Why all this secrecy?  Were they afraid of being persecuted for something?  The followers of Jesus were to give alms, pray, and fast in secret, not in public, so that they would get a reward from their heavenly Father.

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