Lent is a time to change for the future – for always
Reflections on the readings for Ash Wednesday (March 6, 2019): JL 2:12-18; PS 51:3-4,5-6,12-13,14,17; 2COR 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.
As we begin this Lenten season, Catholics around the world go to church to have our foreheads marked with ashes because we need to be reminded that we are dust and to dust we will return.
Ash Wednesday is a call to acknowledge our sins and to atone for them. It is a call to focus on our relationship with our beloved Savior and to open ourselves to His mercy. “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.… We appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 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, 6:1-2).
On this day, we need to look ahead through the forty days of Lent. We can use fasting, almsgiving and prayer to draw closer to God and to become the people He wants us to be. These traditional practices help us develop greater self-discipline. More than that, they encourage us to pay attention to our spiritual lives rather than just seeing ourselves as physical beings. Whatever particular habits we choose to “give up” or additional ones that we take on, the goal is the same. We must recognize Christ’s immense love at work in our lives and respond with devotion to Him and service to our brothers and sisters. In fact, we should make an effort to use this time to let God transform our lives going forward. This means far more than carving out Lent as a separate period of devotion and then going back to being and doing what we were and did before. We need to embrace Lent as a period of making a real change for the better.