COME BACK TO THE LORD
Readings: Joel 2:12-18; Ps 51:3-4, 5-6ab, 12-13, 14 and 17 (R.v.3a); 2 Cor 5:20 – 6:2; Matt 6:1-6, 16-18
The long awaited and spoken of period is here. It is the Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the 40 days of Lent, a period set aside for a closer relationship with God. The Prophet Joel tells us what to do at this period and how it benefits us:“”‘Even now,’’ says the Lord, ‘’return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping and with mourning; and tear your hearts and not your garments.’ Return to the Lord for he is gracious and merciful.” (Joel 2:12-13).
St Paul reminds us that it is a period of grace and that we need to be reconciled to God as ambassadors of Christ (cf. 2 Cor 5:20 – 6:2). It is definitely not a period of show of piety before men, otherwise, we shall not make any spiritual gain out of it (cf. Matt 6:1-18).
Three marks characterize this period of coming back to God – fasting, prayer and almsgiving. They are identical triplets that guide our spirituality.
“Through prayer we make room for God in our life and we express our desire to enter into a deeper friendship with the Lord;
“Through fasting, which can take various forms, we deny ourselves something in order to share it with others, especially those who are in need;
Almsgiving demands of us to share with others what we have received from the Lord in a spirit of solidarity and communion.
Fasting without prayer is nothing but starvation and without almsgiving it simply means banking and saving for another day.
The imposition of ash on our forehead reminds us that we are all dust and unto dust we shall return. But our soul will go before the Lord to stand for judgement. Why not make effort at this period to mortify this body that is dust and save the soul that belongs to God?
May God grant us the wisdom to understand what he asks of us at this period and the courage to do his will joyfully. May we become more and more like him. Amen.
I wish you a grace-filled Lenten season. It is well with you.