From The Ashes And Dust We Are Born Anew
“Each year, Lent stimulates us to rediscover the mercy of God so that we, in turn, become more merciful toward our brothers and sisters.” ~ Pope Benedict XVI
“......return to me with your whole heart.” ~ Joel 2:13
In today’s 2nd Reading (2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2) Saint Paul brings a message of urgency, wherein he implores the people of Corinth to be reconciled with God, great advice for every person of every day and age. Lent, among other things, is a season of repentance, one in which we look to replace the aimless, undisciplined, and selfish habits we tend towards with prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
“Repent, and believe the good news” are the words spoken by the Priest on Ash Wednesday as he rubs the ashes on our foreheads that remind us of our mortality and the fleeting nature with which time relentlessly and swiftly forges on.
“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” is another canonically accepted proclamation given by the Priest on Ash Wednesday, yet another poignant reminder of our final destination. St. Paul closes out today’s passage with these words: “Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” Urgency is once again the underlying tone.
Our lives are meant to be lived in a way which brings glory to God, this we know. Saint Paul tells us today that we are to be “ambassadors for Christ.” Our Lenten practices therefore should be geared towards attaining this goal.
These next forty days offer us the unique opportunity to enter into a “divine routine,” which could in turn give way to life changing habits. Prayer, fasting and almsgiving help us to become detached from the fleeting things of this world and more attached to Christ. Virtues such as piety, compassion, generosity and self-control become second nature, as these gifts of the Holy Spirit slowly begin to become the norm, not the exception. May we gratefully accept the generous offer extended to us in today’s 1st Reading, courtesy of the Prophet Joel, and return to our Lord God with our whole heart.
“Grant, we pray O Lord, that through works of penance and charity, we may turn away from harmful pleasures and, cleansed from our sins, may become worthy to celebrate devoutly the Passion of your Son, who lives and reigns with you for ever and ever. “ ~ Amen