Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Ash Wednesday

"Spare, O Lord, your people, and make not your heritage a reproach, with the nations ruling over them! Why should they say among the peoples, 'Where is their God?'"

There was once a boy who was growing up in times of change. He didn't exactly know what he wanted but he knew the new wave coming in was not it. It seemed like all the good things he knew was going out for cheap, revolting, fads. Faith and loyalty went out for self-worshiping and idolatry. Marriage was a thing of the past to be taken over by promiscuity. The young man with a wife and baby was pushed out for the young man with "protection" and a whole lot of drugs. This was a boy living in the sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties, and today, and he doesn't have one name because he is everyone. Whether we realize it or not, we see so much in today's society and world that should make us ask "where is their God? Why don't they worship Him, or perhaps, why doesn't He let His righteous indignation fall?" Here at the start of Lent, we are called to submit to Christ in supplication and in penance, asking Him to hold back His hand of righteous anger, and to forgive them and us. Here at the start of Lent, we are called to remember what we are, and to remember the power of God has to call us back at inconvenient times. If you we died today, would we be in a fit condition to face the final four things, death, judgment, Heaven, and Hell? Remember, from dust you are to dust you shall return.

Here at the start of Lent we are told to look within ourselves and see what needs to be changed. We should welcome, with sweet sorrow, the Passion and Death of the Cross in a worthy condition. But in order to do that, we must recognize our own insufficient natures. Lent is a season of penance. What is penance though? It is the act of turning around one’s life. It is a season of turning around the life and coming back to Christ and as such, we must return to prayer.

How can we expect God to bless us if we don’t bless Him? We will never be in a position to say that we truly deserve such and such a blessing from God, be it a big break at work or the Paschal Sacrifice, but that does not mean we should not bother trying to merit it. So how can we expect God to bless us if we don't even try? That is another purpose of Lent: to look in on our selves to see what needs fixing. To see what kind of an effort we put into serving God and bringing others to God.

In order to bring other to God, we must wear our faith on our sleeves. Today we receive ashes on our forehead, as a reminder that we came from God and will return to God. In chapter twenty-five of Matthew's Gospel, Christ gives us the parable of the master who gives his servants one, two, and five talents, "each according to his ability." The servants given five and two go out and double their amounts of money, but the servant given one goes and hides it. The master is pleased with the first two, but the one who buried his money is treated justly and harshly. God has given us much, too, and when we go back to God as the ashes remind us that we will, let us be able to say "'Master, you gave me two talents. See, I have made two more.'" Christ's Church is too great a gift to keep to ourselves, so with this outward sign, let us be willing to show our faith in Jesus Christ and to draw souls back to His Church. Let us be, as St. Paul says "ambassadors for Christ."

This Lenten season, let us draw souls back to God, ad Deum ad quid revisibimus. Let it also be a time for sorrow and repentance to usher in Holy Week, the saddest week of the year where we put our attention solely on Christ, His Last Supper, Passion and Death, His lying in the Tomb, and then to the most glorious of days, the Resurrection.

Lord, send forth Your spirit and renew the face of the earth.