Lent opens for us a holy time of reconciliation and renewal
Reflections on the readings for Ash Wednesday (February 17, 2021): JL 2:12-18; PS 51:3-4,5-6,12-13,14,17; 2 COR 5:20–6:2; MT 6:1-6,16-18
MISSIO offers “Preaching Mission,” as a homily help, providing connections to mission from the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
Wherever we are on our Christian journey, we need to use each day, each hour, to express our gratitude for the gift of redemption.
On Ash Wednesday, the Church calls us to immerse ourselves in the Lenten Season that leads to the commemoration of our Savior’s passion, death, and Resurrection. The ashes that we may bear on our foreheads today mark us as followers of Christ. But it is how we live the traditional 40 days of penance – what we give to it and what we gain by it – that reveals how closely we walk in Jesus’ footsteps. Sorrow for sin is important. We need to repent in order to be reconciled with our Lord and with our brothers and sisters. We must cooperate with God’s grace during Lent so that we grow more deeply Christ-like. Each day provides an opportunity to pray and meditate, to fast from what pleases our senses, to join our lives with those in need by sharing with them from our God-given blessings. St. Paul wanted those to whom he had brought the Good News to understand that they must live out their faith every day. “We are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.… For He says: In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you. Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 5:20, 6:2).
Wherever we are on our Christian journey, we need to use each day, each hour, to express our gratitude for the gift of redemption. If we truly believe that the Son of God became human and offered Himself as the only sacrifice that could wipe away the ugly outcome of sin and the permanence of death, we must act like we do. The love of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – for us, and His desire for us to recognize and to return that love is at the heart of Lent because it is the heart of His relationship with us. Let us use this day and the rest of this season to pay attention to Christ and all He teaches us, all He shows us, day by day, about His compassion and mercy for each one of us. Over the course of the last year, many people have experienced fear, anger, loss, and anguish in ways we never thought possible. But we are not alone. That, too, is a Lenten lesson. Our Lord will never let us go, if we only hold on to Him.