Homily for Ash Wednesday Year A
Theme: Weapons of the spirit
By: Fr. Agustin Mateo, Pastor
St. Rose of Lima Parish, Gaithersburg, MD
Homily for Wednesday February 26 2020
This Wednesday, we begin our liturgical season of Lent, the forty day preparation for the Easter Triduum.
On Ash Wednesday, we will wear ashes on our foreheads as an outward sign of our inner poverty and need for repentance. The Church sends us with the three weapons of the spirit – prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. To fast is to limit one’s food or drink and is ordered to the feasts. Season of fasting serves for our purification and emptying. These observances are important, but they are not ends in themselves. Fasting is not an absolute virtue, but the foundation of other virtues.
Many of the ancient Fathers held fasting to be an essential element in a Christian’s life of prayer. “Repentance without fasting is useless,” said Saint Basil the Great. Fasting is for the sake of preparation. Fasts are the precondition of our being filled on the feast.
We look to good biblical examples when we fast. For instance, Moses and Elijah fasted forty days before going into God’s presence (Ex 34:38, 1 Kings 19:8). Anna the prophetess fasted to prepare herself for the coming of the Messiah (Lk 2:37). Our Lord Jesus Christ himself fasted for forty days in the desert before his public ministry (Mt 4:2). Fasting was a basic requisite to fulfill a mission or to meet God. The bible spells out specific spiritual benefits of fasting. For instance, it produces humility (Psalm 69:10). It shows our sorrow for our sins (1 Samuel 7:6). It clears a path to God (Daniel 9:3). It is a means of discerning God’s will (Ezra 8:21) and a powerful method of prayer (Ezra 8:23). It is a mark of true conversion (Joel 2:12).
Brothers and sisters, let us begin these forty days of preparation for the most important event of Christians, namely, the Passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us follow Christ on his way to the desert to fast so that we may learn how to fight and overcome the temptations of the devil. Let us pick up the weapons of the spirit – prayer, fasting, and almsgiving – to reflect on our relationship with God and neighbor. During this season of Lent, our parish will pray the Stations of the Cross every Friday. We will also celebrate one main penance and reconciliation liturgy on March 26th so that parishioners can approach the sacrament of confession.