Posts Tagged ‘Returning to Ashes’

Why Should I Observe Lent?

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

Ash Wednesday Service

Mt 6: 1-6, 16-18

Dc. Larry Brockman

Ashes! All of us are gathered here to receive ashes? Why?

Is it because it’s the thing to do?  Is it because you long for something different, some change in life?  Or is it because you hope the meaning of life will come into focus for you?

When you receive ashes, you will hear these words: “Remember you are dust, and to dust you will return”.  Yes, the real meaning of life in this world becomes blurred in the glitter and the attractions of the world.  After the joy and celebration of Christmas, the Church reminds us that life in this world is not about self-indulgence; it is not about the joys and fruits of the world.  All of that, good or bad as it seems, will end as it began for us- in ashes.  And it is certain to end in ashes.  So, what is life all about?

Jesus spent 40 days just after his Baptism reflecting on his life and mission.  His whole person was in turmoil- facing the promptings from the Spirit that told him what life in this world was really all about for him.  But Satan tormented him with the other side.  “You don’t have to suffer; you’ve got it Jesus; and I can make you anything you want; just worship me”.

And that’s the way it is for all of us too.  All of us are tempted to make our lives comfortable; to focus on what’s best just for me; rather than follow the tiny whispering sound of the Spirit working through our consciences to take up our crosses and follow Jesus.

The Gospel we read provides us Jesus’ advice on how to conduct our Lenten journey.  It was based on his own 40 days in the desert.  Find some time alone to reflect and pray.  And divest yourselves of attachments to things of this world.  He suggests three things.

The first suggestion is to give alms.  That means giving something to others.  But you don’t give alms to win points with those watching.  Rather, you do it to help you focus on others, not yourself.  Who or what is it that God is calling you to serve in this life?

And Jesus advises us to pray in a quiet of space, not openly for all to see.  Jesus is not against public and group prayer.  That’s not his point.  His point is that when you need reflective prayer, and all of us do, then that prayer is not for show, for others to see.  Rather, it is for us to get in tune directly with God so that the Spirit can help us to focus on God’s mission for us.  Where can you go and when can you go there so that Jesus has a chance to touch you in that way?

And lastly, Jesus advises us to fast.  Again, not to call attention to our self- induced suffering and how holy we are; but rather, so that we divest ourselves of what is blocking our spiritual growth.  Just what is it that is blocking your spiritual growth?  What is it that is taking so much of your time, so much of your energy, or so much of your resources that you cannot hear your inner voice; you cannot focus on God’s mission for you.  Give that up for Lent rather than beer or chocolate or coffee or whatever.  Maybe it’s TV or the Internet or, God forbid, Facebook!

Lent is an opportunity to come to grips with the real meaning of your life so you are ready for the Resurrection and life everlasting in the Kingdom of God.  Take advantage of the 40 days just as Jesus did.  Or the ashes you receive today will have lost their meaning.