Today our Holy Mother the Church celebrates Ash Wednesday; the beginning of the Lenten season. This is a season of Gods mercy and grace. It is a season that presents us with the opportunity to be reconciled with God, neighbors and ourselves. It is a period of 40 days that will end in praise; God winning salvation for humanity through his death and resurrection. The church equally presents us with three key practices that will aid us in our preparation during this period of Lent. They are, prayer, fasting and almsgiving. The proper practice of these three things, will help us to be ready for the celebration of the resurrection of Christ at Easter. In the liturgy of today, we will be signed on the forehead with ash; a sign of our human brokenness and mortality.

In the 1st reading from the prophet Joel, the prophet’s emphasis is on the fact that the most important thing is that we tear our hearts and not our garments. Also, in the gospel we see Jesus admonishing us against externalisms. What is very important during this season of Lent is repentance that comes from the inside, and not the external shows that are intentional. It is a season that calls us to repentance and a change of lifestyle that is contrary to the gospel imperatives. The season of Lent is a privileged moment for the children of God that is presented to us by the church.

It is an invitation for us to let go of our habits and practices that do not represent who we are called to be by God. According to St. Paul in today’s 2nd reading, he reminds us about the fact that we are ambassadors for Christ and our lifestyle should portray who we are called to be. This is an opportunity for us to drop bad habits and vices and embrace virtues that add value to our life and the life of all those who encounter us. By so doing, we will become more connected with God and also live a holy and righteous life that is pleasing to God. The church in her wisdom has given us three key practices that will help us to achieve our goal during this season of lent. Let us resolve to devote more time to prayer during this season of lent, make out special days for fasting and abstinence and lastly, make sacrifices that will increase your almsgiving to the less privileged in our society.

As we enjoy the abundance of God’s grace during this season, let us not be reluctant in presenting our weaknesses and brokenness before God. No matter your present situation, never think you cannot get the forgiveness of God. To think that way is to underestimate the mercy of God. Just go to Him the way you are and you will experience the mercy and love of God. He is ready to be reconciled with you and to change the narrative of your life into something that you will be proud of at the end.

The main question today dear friends in Christ is, are you willing to tear your heart and go humbly to God begging for his mercy and pardon? He is patiently waiting for you. Remember, with God it is never too late. What you need to do today is to make that first step of faith and you will experience the mercy and love of God.

It is my prayer that as we begin the Lenten season, we will open up ourselves to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Peace be with you. Amen.


Homily for Ash Wednesday, Year A, by Fr. Jude Ifezime, C.S.Sp