Ash Wednesday is a day that begins the Lenten season. At the Lenten season, the Church reminds her children of the suffering, agony, crucifixion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, the Lenten season is the time we commemorate the passion, agony, crucifixion and death of Our Lord Jesus Christ
The Ash Wednesday reminds man that despite whatever he has, who he thinks he is, he should remember that he is nothing but dust. As he comes to the world, one day he shall also leave.
At Ash Wednesday, the priest places the ash on our foreheads and says either of the two statements: 1. Remember that Dust you are and unto dust, you shall return 2. Turn away from sin and be faithful to the word of God. Hence, the minister uses these statements to remind us of what we are made of, if we have forgotten and what God requires of us.
So the ash Wednesday is calling us to repent and come back to God. We have strayed away and have taken God as nothing. We cannot continue to be in sin every time and every day.
To Reconcile: Meaning.
To reconcile with someone means to restore a broken relationship. It involves creating a good relationship again with someone we are once closed to.
To reconcile with God is a call to restore our relationship with God. This is what the Lenten season is asking everyone to do.
In the second reading of today, Paul reminds us who we are. We are ambassadors and followers of Christ and not that of sin. Because of our sake, He made himself like ours to save us from sin but we seem to have neglected Him.
The second reading reminds us to come back to God and restore our relationship with Him. God loves us so much and is even appealing to us through this Lenten period.
Paul is even appealing to his workers not to neglect the grace of God that is given to them. We don’t have to neglect God again.
We have been celebrating all these while, living our lives the way we want. The church uses this time to call her children back. Are we going to respond positively or negatively?
How to Reconcile with God.
With the celebration of the ash Wednesday, one may ask ; how do we begin to reconcile with God? How can we begin to restore our broken relationship with God?
To answer this, the first reading gives us insight. Prophet Joel calls us to come back to God with all our hearts. To come back to God is to repent from our sinful lives.
This act is not for a mere formality but for turning to God with all our hearts. The use of fasting, weeping and mourning in the first reading indicates that we must be truly sorrowful for all we have done in the past. We have to tear our inner self, break our hearts for God and come close to Him again.
Repentance is like someone going in the wrong direction or wrong road and you tell him to turn in the right direction.
Secondly, in the gospel, Jesus warns His apostles not to be like the hypocrites when they perform their acts of piety.
Among the things Jesus mentioned are good deeds, giving of alms and charity, prayers and fasting. When we turn to God, we have to maintain our relationship and increase His love for us by doing more good deeds rather than the evil ones we do. Let everything we do henceforth be good to God and humanity.
Then we have to fast from wickedness, immorality, sinful living, every form of evil, hatred, unforgiveness etc and then communicate with God daily through prayers. This is why daily visitation to the Blessed Sacrament is very important at this time.
Ash and Repentance; The Biblical Connection.
To reconcile with God goes beyond merely asking for the forgiveness of our sins, or refraining from sin and promising God not to sin again. This also involves feeling deeply sorry for the sins we have done.
In the bible, when people are truly sorry for what they have done, they put on sackcloth and ashes. At Ash Wednesday, the ash shows that you are truly sorry for the things you have done. You are not doing it because others are applying the ash.
In Daniel 9:3-19, Daniel put on sackcloth and ashes when he was praying for the sins of the people of Israel. Also, in Job 42, Job tells God that He repents in dust and ashes.
In Jonah 3:3-8, immediately the people of Nineveh heard the preaching of Jonah, they wore sackcloth and the king sat on ashes (Jonah 3:6). In 2 Samuel 12:15-18, David put on sackcloth and refused to eat for the whole week, when he sinned against the Lord.
When we look into the lives of these people, we find deep sorrow for what they did. But today, we just do as if nothing concerns us. We even attend confession because others are doing that. To reconcile with God must come from the heart.
May God have mercy on us and give us the grace to completely reconcile with Him. Amen.