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ASH WEDNESDAY

2ND MARCH 2022


Reading I: Jl 2:12-18

Psalm: 51:3-6ab, 12-14 and 17

Reading II: 2 Cor 5:20—6:2

Gospel: Mt 6:1-6, 16-18


RETURN TO ME WITH ALL YOUR HEARTS


Today we celebrate Ash Wednesday, the first day of the liturgical season of Lent. In this season, we prepare ourselves to celebrate the high point of our Christian life, Easter. In today’s readings, we are invited to a change of heart and they further, teach us about the traditional Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. These disciplines are to be part of the Christian life during every season, but during the season of Lent, we renew our commitment to them.

The liturgical sign of the ‘Ash,’ drawing a cross on our foreheads with ashes, represents a summary of our Christian lives. On one level, the ashes serve as a reminder of our birth and death. (Remember that you are dust and that you will return to dust, as the prayer says when we receive ashes.)


The ashes also serve as a reminder of our triumph: the crucifixion of Christ. Christ defeated death by his death and resurrection. As Christians, we have the opportunity to share in Christ's triumph over death. When we "turn away from sin and are loyal to the gospel," as the alternative prayer says when we are marked with ashes, we recognize that triumph.

The name "Lent" is derived from an old English word that means "springtime," and it conjures up images of spring cleaning and fresh life in nature. This Lenten season is a wonderful blessing for us since it allows us to perform some spring cleaning in our lives and enjoy fresh life as a consequence. As a result, we admit that we're sinners. During Lent, we desire to clean up our lives. We desire to be free of sin and grow closer to God. This Lent, we're hoping for a change of heart. The words of the Lord through the prophet Joel in our first reading are words that have special significance for us today as we begin this season of Lent and are words that we can easily see the Lord speaking to us personally,


In the Scriptures when people left sin behind and turned over a new leaf they used ashes to symbolize their repentance. Job said, “I disown what I have said, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:6), Daniel “turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.” (Dan 9:3), Jesus said, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.” (Matt 11:21; Luke 10:13). Therefore, in a spirit of repentance, we will take ashes on our foreheads.


"What are you doing for Lent?"

Lent is a journey that involves our whole life, our entire being. It is a time to reconsider the path we are taking, to find the route that leads us home, and to rediscover our profound relationship with God, on whom everything depends. Lent is just not about the little sacrifices we make, but about discerning where our hearts are directed. This is the core of Lent: asking where our hearts are directed. Let us ask: Where is my life’s navigation system taking me – towards God or myself? Do I live to please the Lord, or to be noticed, praised, but at the head of the line…? Do I have a “wobbly” heart, which takes a step forwards and then one backward? During Lent, there is just one thing to give up: sin. This Lenten season is a preparation for reaffirming our baptismal commitments on Holy Saturday night at the Easter Vigil. When writing to the Romans (6:3-6), Paul explains that when we were baptized, we died to our old way of life to live a new way of life, that is, we died to our old wicked ways and left sin behind. As a result, Paul claims that when we were baptized, we entered the tomb with Jesus and resurrected with Jesus to a new life.

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