Homily for Ash Wednesday
Theme: Renewal of the Heart
By: Fr. Benny Tuazon
Homily for Ash Wednesday, March 6 2019
(Mt. 6:1-6, 16-18 ) Today, Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Season of Lent,
The First Reading reminds us to seek renewal from the heart. In the Psalm, we beg the Lord to grant us mercy for our sins. The Second Reading inspires us to make the renewal fruitful by being ambassadors for Christ. And in the Gospel, Jesus tells us what are the things to do to attain renewal, have a fruitful Lent, and anticipate Easter ready for the joy and hope it brings.
(First Reading) We come before the Lord in full humility. We had sinned and fell so short of God’s expectation. This is not based on weighing the graces He gave versus the offences we have made. God had been gracious consistently. We had been unworthy. Lent leads us to Him in full nakedness. We dread the loss of heaven and our separation from God. We want to be back in His arms. We want to renew our friendship. We do this with all our heart, our mind, strength, and soul.
(Responsorial Psalm) And we dare seek renewal because we know God is merciful to those who repent. Like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, God waits for us everyday to come back to Him. When we do, He runs to us and brings back all our privileges as a child of God. We are renewed and is again on the way to eternal life.
(Second Reading) Renewed, we shine before others even before we speak. Our aura of holiness felt by those who we meet. But that is not enough, we seek to do good to others. Because we believe that we had been graced with mercy, we ought to share them to others. As St. Paul says in the reading, we are ambassadors for Christ. We represent Jesus to others.
The above brings us to the Gospel today. Renewal, mercy, and the resolve to go back to God entails three good acts namely; prayer, fasting (sacrifice), and good works. Prayer gives us direction and clarity of mission. When we kneel before the Lord, we allow ourselves to be open to God’s commands and wills. We report to Him ready to do everything He will ask us to do. At the same time, it is a moment of being graced with a strength of the divine kind. The task of a Christian is hard. It cannot be done through pure human efforts. It can only achieved with God.
Fasting or making sacrifices is more than paying for our sins. God does not need our sacrifices. He forgives without condition. Sacrifices are necessary to discipline ourselves. It is in defence against the temptations and lures of the devil. The devil knows our weaknesses. Thus, we also should be aware of our weaknesses. Therefore, in the Season of Lent, our sacrifices are focused on things we enjoy doing, having, thinking, etc. We deprive ourselves of them, thus disciplining our whole person. What we want to achieve is that we arrive at the realisation that we can live without them, at least temporarily. The devil will use them against us. When it comes, we will be ready and victorious. In the process, we assert our faith in God more than those which we sacrificed. It follows too that what we must sacrifice are those which will really challenge us. Jesus, Himself fasted for forty days and forty nights. Look at Him when He emerged from the desert. He was subject to a lot of temptations. But He remained faithful and was, later, victorious. We go through the Season of Lent having that attitude. We will be tempted. But we will not succumb. rather, we will turn the tables against satan!
Finally, we are encouraged to do acts of charity during this Season of Lent. Let us try to find a regular way of doing acts of charity. This maybe material, moral support, pleasant gestures, forgiveness, patience, understanding, etc. Anything that will make this world a better place because a certain goodness is done, is enough. Hopefully, if many participates, we will flood the world with our goodness and drown evil to oblivion.
Yes, we apply ashes on our foreheads as a sign of our internal spirit. The ashes may disappear later. Hopefully, our spirit does not. Remember that when the ashes are applied, we willingly enter to the season of lent and join the whole Christian community in renewal.