As Lent begins, let us put ourselves in God’s hands so that we may do and be whatever He asks us. He will reward our heartfelt efforts more that we could ever imagine.
Reflections on the readings for Ash Wednesday (February 26, 2020): 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.
On this Ash Wednesday, we find Jesus teaching us how to perform good works in the Gospel according to St. Matthew.
In part of His Sermon of the Mount, Christ offers us a primer on the way God wants us to fast, pray, and give alms. In each case our Lord offers a strong contrast between how our Eternal Father wants us to worship Him and help His people and how hypocrites act. Jesus starts by telling His followers, “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them. …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” (Matthew 6:1,3-4).
In each case, Jesus makes clear that we must not show off our good deeds to gain the approval of those who see them. Offering material help to those in need, praying and fasting are all good if they are performed to help our neighbor, to grow spiritually and to place the will of God ahead of our own pleasures and preferences. What the people around us should notice is not what we do, but what we are. By putting our Lord first in all things, we will, over time, be transformed. We will grow ever closer to the humble, holy and loving person our Creator always intended us to be. Let us start this penitential season with the resolve to keep our eyes on Christ and to follow in His way. Instead of fearing any temptation or any cross we might have to bear, let us willingly use it to join with our Savior. For He will guide us safely and surely through Lent and through all the days of our life.