In today’s Gospel from the Holy Mass (Matt 6:1-6; 16-18), Jesus offers a direct criticism for the confused culture of the 1st century:
 “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 received 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 corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received 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 received 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.
Jesus offers a devastating critique of the culture of the 1st century:
- In the 1st century, all kinds of man-made practices had sprung up that were counter to the culture that God intended.
- In this passage, Jesus critiques several areas: showy charity (sounding trumpets when alms are given), theatrical praying (public displays of “praying”) and fasting for public recognition (drawing attention to the physical demands of fasting).
- In each critique, Jesus condemns the common practices that have been adopted by the common culture, labeling those who practice false piety as hypocrites.
- With each critique, Jesus offers the proper practice, reminding people of the omniscience and justice of the Father, who sees all and rewards the truly holy. He ought to know; Jesus is the Son of the Father.
Like the response to any counter-culturalist, the cultural elites of the time (the Pharisees, Sadducees) hated Jesus and eventually killed Him.
Today, cultural elites seek to overturn God’s laws (thou shall not kill – abortion, desecration of marriage, mainstreaming sexual perversion), seeking to shut God out of His own Creation. The cultural elites seek to attack the one true counter-cultural opposition to the Culture of Death, the Holy Catholic Church.
The cultural elites of the 1st century lose, just as the cultural elites of the 21st century will ultimately lose.
Jesus, the Divine Counter-Culturalist wills it.