Let’s be encouraged by these verses of today’s second reading:
“At the favourable time, I have listened to you:
on the day of salvation I come to your help.
Well, now is the favourable time;
this is the day of salvation”
2 Corinthians 5
Today when I think of Ash Wednesday, recent tragedies in our Australasian part of the world come to mind: the Whakaari / White Island eruption and the Australian bush fires. So much devastation and suffering caused by fire and ash.
Since this time last year every one of us will have suffered tragedy of some kind; perhaps the loss of one we love, the breakdown of relationship, family and work tensions, or financial or health hardship.
These sufferings can threaten to overwhelm us, draining our energy and sapping our joy.
I’m grateful that the church offers us Lent as a hope-filled time. Even the word LENT comes from the old English word meaning “spring-time,” and we know our joy at the sight of a green shoot of new growth after a long hard winter.
Perhaps our problem is that we become attached to the winter branch, the ash-covered soil, the attachments that we grasp at every day in a futile escape from the realities that present themselves?
Take a moment to be inspired by Pope Francis’ homily for Ash Wednesday last year:
“Today we have been offered a sign that will help us find our direction: the head marked by ash. It is a sign that causes us to consider what occupies our mind. Our thoughts often focus on transient things, which come and go. The small mark of ash, which we will receive, is a subtle yet real reminder that of the many things occupying our thoughts, that we chase after and worry about every day, nothing will remain. No matter how hard we work, we will take no wealth with us from this life. Earthly realities fade away like dust in the wind. Possessions are temporary, power passes, success wanes. The culture of appearance prevalent today, which persuades us to live for passing things, is a great deception. It is like a blaze: once ended, only ash remains. Lent is the time to free ourselves from the illusion of chasing after dust. Lent is for rediscovering that we are created for the inextinguishable flame, not for ashes that immediately disappear; for God, not for the world; for the eternity of heaven, not for earthly deceit; for the freedom of the children of God, not for slavery to things. We should ask ourselves today: Where do I stand? Do I live for fire or for ash?”
- Invite the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the grace for which you need to pray this Lent.