Homily for Ash Wednesday

Joel 2:12-18    2 Cor. 5: 20-6:2     Mat. 6: 1-6, 16-18

Theme: A Season of God’s love

Today the church celebrates Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season. This is a season of God’s mercy and grace, and a season of God’s love for his people. It is an opportunity to be reconciled with God, neighbours, and with yourself. 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 to us the three key practices that will aid us in our preparation during this period. 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 symbol of our human brokenness and mortality.

 

In our first reading today, the prophet Joel, reminds us of what fasting really entails; the desire to repent from the heart, rather than our usual external show of religiosity. This is what the phrase let your hearts be broken, and not garments torn means. This is the message Jesus takes up in the gospel, warning us against externalisms. By implication, what is very important during this season of Lent is repentance that comes from the inside, and not the external shows that are self-gratifying. Therefore, we should all make effort to walk on the path of true repentance that will bring about change of lifestyles in line with the gospel imperatives. Hence, we should consider this season as a privileged time presented to us by the church to make amends.

 

Consequently, St. Paul reminds us to take up this task of repentance as ambassadors for Christ, as though it is God himself who is making this appeal directly to us. This appeal is for us to repent and be reconciled with him as well as reconciling others to him through Christ the One Mediator who had no sin. It entails dropping our bad habits and vices and embrace virtues that add value to our lives and the lives of all those who encounter us. Thus, we will become more connected with God and live holy and righteous lives that is pleasing to him. For this connectedness to be achieved we are advised to practice virtues of fasting, almsgiving, and abstinence.

 

My simple advice today would be, let us all present our weaknesses and brokenness before God. No matter your present situation, do not 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 his mercy and love. He is ready to be reconciled with you and to change the narrative of your life. However, the big question is: are you willing to tear your heart and humble yourself before him? It is my prayer that as we begin the Lenten season, we will open ourselves to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, in the name of the father and of the son and of the holy spirit, Amen. Peace be with you!

 

 

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Ash Wednesday, by Fr. Jude Ifeanyi Ifezime, C.SSp
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