Ash Wednesday

Readings for Wednesday March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday

First Reading: Joel 2:12-18
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 51
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2
Gospel: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Jesus said to his disciples: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.” (Matt. 6:1-6, 16-18)

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten Season. This season of lent is preceded by Advent and Christmas; and I believe that this is certainly purposeful. In our faith journey, we are first called to fall in love with Christ, we need to fall in love with Him for we are called to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. So during Advent and Christmas we prepare and encounter the infant Christ, and how easy is it to fall in love with a child? But this is certainly not the end of our journey, as we are also called to follow the man. We must follow His way, His truth, and His light; there is no other path that will lead to heaven.

Following Christ is certainly a hard journey, and that is what this season of lent is all about. It is to help us learn to sacrifice, as Christ sacrificed for us. It is not just sacrifice to inconvenience us, but rather to help us grow in faith and love. Sacrifice is necessary in the Christian journey, and I would even argue that it is something that makes us better people, better sons and daughters, better husbands and wives, and better friends and neighbors. This season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving can be very powerful, but only if we allow it to change us.

Let us all praise and thank God for this season of Lent and the graces that can come about from learning to sacrifice for His glory. May this Lenten journey be a time to growth for each and every one of us.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, help us to grow in faith and love over these next forty days, and may we be brought even closer to you in our lives. Lord, you are our God and we are your people, may we never veer from the perfect path which you have set before us. Be our rock and our strength Lord Jesus. Amen.

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