March 2, 2022
Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
This week we leave the season of ordinary time, where Jesus asks us to “remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly…” (Lk 6:42) This is a perfect entrée to Ash Wednesday and the Lenten Season.
With Ash Wednesday we enter the great penitential season of Lent. We prepare throughout these 40 days for Christ’s greatest triumph – His resurrection from the dead. During this time our attention is drawn to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. This year we will wear our ashes as a visible sign of our faith as we are called to “anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden”. Matthew 6:1-6,16-18
As Catholics, this is an invitation to think about the ways in which we privately pray and publicly live out our faith. Lent is both an interior journey and a time for us to believe the Good News.
This year, with all eyes turned toward Eastern Europe, I turn to message which Pope Saint John Paul II gave in his Ash Wednesday homily on February 28, 1979: Today the Church lays great stress on this truth, confirmed by the history of every man. Remember that “to dust you shall return”. Remember that your life on earth has a limit! …Therefore, the message of Ash Wednesday is expressed with the words of St. Paul: “We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake, he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:20-21). Collaborate with him!