The Word of God

Ashes For The Masses

Reflection on Mass Reading for February 17, 2021

“Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning.” Today we begin a most wonderful and challenging season of self-denial and hungering for the earthly pleasure we may or may not have become overly attached to. The reason for the Season of Lent, which begins today, is to understand mercy deeply and to practice compassion and forgiveness every chance and opportunity we have. “Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.” Even though this special time appears on our calendars every single year, it is not pertinent or helpful to recall how many Lents we have lived through but rather, and most importantly, how many Lents have successfully lived through our own lives and existence. Remember, we live in the present moment, and this is time always to act if we are going to make a difference between a life well lived and just days and weeks to fill. “Behold now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” 

“And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.” Let us keep in mind as well as a precautionary and important caveat as we move forward. Lent does not end at the end of the day on Ash Wednesday. It is not even for just a week. It is a journey of forty days and forty nights, which is remarkably Biblical and critical. If we truly want to glean all the spiritual and emotional benefits of such a powerful trek, we need to be ready to fall in place will all our hearts and minds and not anything that resembles a half-hearted effort. This is also not just a thinly layered attempt to lose weight and look better. The role of hypocrisy is just waiting to take center stage during this time, and the Gospel was not unclear about the attitudes that must be present if we are to encounter a true moment of lasting integrity. Finally, this Lenten Season is about our relationship with Our Heavenly Father just as it was for the First Lent between Jesus and His Father. Just as the Body of Christ is the Church, so this global initiative to reform and change is all about our love for God and experiencing his reciprocating love for every one of us. Onward and upward!

“No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by an advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually if you do no good to others, you do nothing great.” St. John Chrysostom


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