March 1, 2017 – Ash Wednesday

Click on the following “link” to read   Ash Wednesday About today’s liturgy:

Ash Wednesday About today’s liturgy:

Saint for today: David of Wales (died March 1, 589)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Joel 2:12-18    –    Psalm 51    –    2 Corinthians 5:20 – 6:2    –    Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Today’s Reflection originally appeared on Ash Wednesday in 2012 but it includes a good story around the subject of “giving up” and how that can really change things when that is done with a good motive. My hope is that it will be a means of your seeing how what you give up really can change lives.

“Come back to me with all your heart … remember, you are dust and into dust you shall return.”

 Here we are, again at Ash Wednesday, ready to begin another Lent and we hear the same readings that we hear every year. We’re given no options but rather forced to listen to familiar Scriptures with new insight. How are we to begin our Lenten Journey in a way that draws us closer to God while turning our thoughts away from introspection – just me and God – to having a real concern for a Gospel call to care for widows and orphans and relief for captives?

Lent has to be more than a marathon exercise to see how little we can live with or how much penance we can endure. Our fasting needs to be more than just doing without something. It has to free us to more clearly see what we are drawn to.

The ashes remind us of our own mortality and the fact that we will all, one day, come face to face with our creator who will not ask us if we lived a “clean life” or said all our required prayers or followed all the rules but rather, how did we relate to the people who were part of our lives or who came to us for some kind of relief. At this point many of us will say, “When did I see you … (here we can fill in any of many choices of words) and not respond?”

In my younger years when I was a chronic smoker I gave up smoking every Ash Wednesday and usually began again on Ash Thursday! Finally, one year, an older priest friend who had almost given up hope of God’s willingness to heal him of his pain told me to hold on tightly to my faith and belief in God because it was so easy to loose that gift when confronted with serious pain.

I left the room and went straight to the Chapel, knelt down and prayed, “Lord, you know how many times I’ve tried to quite smoking and failed to make it even one day. This year, let me offer it up for my priest friend so that he can be filled with your joy.” That’s all I said. I got up went to my room and now, more than 45 years later I’m still free from that addition. Years later, when I met up with that older priest and told him what I had done so many before he broke into tears and embraced me with his thanks saying, “I don’t think I could have made it this far if you hadn’t done that for me.! Now all I need to do is work on some of the other things that still keep me captive. Maybe that’s why we do this “Ash Wednesday thing” over and over again! We still have a ways to go before we get it right. But it can’t be just me and God. It has to be me coming face to face with the God presence in those who might have lost their faith and hope in a God who loved them to His death. Amen!

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