Wednesday, March 6, 2019

An Ash Wednesday Homily from a few years back; still like it today

I'm Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
I'm Asking Him To Change
His Ways
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change

These lyrics from one of Michael Jackson's big hits reminded me of Lent today. Lent is all about change. Look how easily we embrace change. There are so many diet fads on TV and exercise routines and if that isn't good enough, the latest and greatest product is promised to make us change. We are called to change our appearance, to change our habits, to change our future.

As people of faith do we accept the challenge to change and embrace a life of holiness as Christ calls us to; do we?

Lent is seasonal. We welcome the seasons of the year. Right now we are busily preparing for springtime. We even spring forward this weekend. We embrace the seasons. We look forward to each one of them until we've had enough and we prepare for the next. The seasons of the year are the rythym of our lives. And so it goes with the Church. We arrive today at the season of Lent. We are called to a rythym of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. And Jesus shows us in the Gospel today how to do it. Not like the hyprocrites. No, Jesus tells us to call no attention to ourselves but to develop a deeper, more intimate relationship with God our Father. In fact, in the very Gospel passage proclaimed today we skip those verses where Jesus teaches us to pray the Our Father. Jesus calls us to embrace the challenge of prayer, fasting and almsgiving with sincerity and simplicity of heart; between each of us and the Father.

But what about the ashes? Don't they tell everyone look at me; I went to church today and got my ashes? Yes, we are called to wear the ashes today as a sign of who we are and what we believe. We ponder the words that we are dust and to dust we shall return. This is not intended to be an act of attention grabbing. Quite the contrary. This simple act today is our obedient affirmation that we will commit to prayer, fasting and almsgiving in the manner Jesus prescribes in this Gospel.

Before we receive the ashes can we challenge ourselves to a Lenten season of reconciliation and renewal? Can we avail ourselves to go to confession this Lent? If possible, can we add some daily Masses to our weekly schedule? Will be follow the prescriptions for abstaining and fasting? Will be renew our personal comittment to prayer? As a Lenten suggestion, look at that 51st Psalm we prayed today. Make that your morning prayer. "Have mercy on me God, in your kindness. In your compassion blot out my offense. O wash me more and more from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin". And can we practice charity this Lenten season; even within our own homes and among our own families?

It's a season thing. Winter is changing to spring and all that we look forward to in this rythym of life. Ordinary time gives way to Lent, and we have a chance to change; to grow in holiness and grow closer to the Father. Our Archbishop today was interviewed on a local TV station to discuss Lent. Archbishop Aymond said that Lent is a time when we can look at ourselves and try to see us as God see's us.

After all, we are looking at the man in the mirror. As we take a look at ourselves may we prayerfully ask God to help us change! And perhaps we will see as God see's and make that change!

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