Ash Wedensday

Rend your hearts not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God. (JL 2:13) This is what Lent is about.  Yes, there are signs, there is structure, there are images we use during Lent, and often it can feel like we are just rending our garments, or making an outward sign. However, Lent is about what is happening in the union of the flesh and the spirit.  It is a reminder to us that we are sinners, we are broken, we do struggle, we need help.  This is the rending of hearts that we need.  All too often in today’s world of participation awards, self help, and super self esteem, we forget that we still fall short, that we are not God, that we are just dust, and to dust we shall return.

So we turn to the Lord in His mercy, we fall before Him asking for a clean heart, and a steadfast spirit.  Realizing that it is God who transforms us, it is Him who enters into the reality of our life and touches our heart, strengthens our spirit.  There is nothing we can do on our own. We must fall before the Lord and rely upon His Grace.

And He shows that He is willing to do this.  Not just standing as Creator of all things, with majesty watching from afar.  God desires our lives to be transformed so much, that He enters, Himself, into our very history, the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, enters our world.  He will be tempted, He will travel speaking of God’s love mercy and love, He brought the demands of a life lived for God, He was abandoned, He was eventually beaten, He was crucified, all for the love of you and the love of me.  If we were the only one here He would have still done this.  As St. Paul states: “For our sake He made Him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor 5:21)  And I repeat the words of St. Paul, “Behold, NOW is a very acceptable time; behold, NOW is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor 6:2) (emphasis added) And NOW is our chance, our day, our opportunity to accept the gift the Lord is giving us.  Take today, take the sacrifice of the day, take the sign of the ashes on our heads, realize how much God is reaching out to you, asking for your friendship, asking for your very life.

So, “If today you hear His voice, harden not your heart.” (PS 95:8) Do everything to soften your heart, and prepare it for the relationship with God.  Not so you will be looked upon as great, or spiritual, or holy, but so you may have the blessing of the love and grace of the living God, loving and living within you.  Turn to Him now in the silence of your heart, so that the “Father who sees in secret will repay you.”  (see MT 6:1-18) And how will the Lord repay you?  What do we get out of this? (as we are so prone to say today) He repays you with His very life.  He repays you with relationship.  You become part of the Church, the Bride, and Christ the bridegroom.  God will repay the total self gift you give, with His own self gift.  In the total, free, and faithful gift of you to God and God to you, their will be life and fruitfulness.

So take some time today, to commit yourself to the Lord.  Rend your hearts, realize your need and fall before the Lord in love and truth.  Commit your entire self to God, examine your lives and see what needs to be changed to be totally God’s.  You are and will be His prized possession.  Encounter Jesus today!  Learn to pray more and more each day! Love with your very lives!  See Christ in others!  Proclaim the Gospel with your very lives!

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