Wednesday 18th February – Ash Wednesday
Reflection: Joel 2: 12-18
BROKEN HEARTS OR TORN GARMENTS?
It was a practice among the Jews to tear one’s garments, put on sackcloth, lie down in ashes and sprinkle ashes on one’s head while observing a fast. Such actions signified sorrow for sin and inner repentance (see Daniel 9:3, Esther 4:3). It is against this backdrop that the prophet Joel called out to the people “Let your hearts be broken, not your garments torn” (Joel 2:13). Today as we begin this season of grace, God calls out to you and I with the same message.
Ashes will be placed on our foreheads; the Mass will become more solemn and the joyful songs of “Gloria” and “Alleluia” will be put on hold as we all are called to a season of fasting, prayer and almsgiving. Will Lent consist of merely these outward observances and changes to the liturgy or are you and I, young Catholics going to respond with broken hearts to this season of grace? God calls us to pause for a while, look back on our lives and seek His mercy for the many ways in which we have failed and taken Christ’s passion for granted.
Dear friend, indeed “today is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2). This season is not just for our parents. It includes us as young people, hence Prophet Joel says “…summon the community, assemble the elders, gather the children, even the infants at the breast” (Joel 2:16). Give up something this Lent. It maybe skipping a meal once a week, your favourite TV show, football match or some bad habit like gossiping and spend that time in prayer and studying your Bible or in offering help to someone in need. As you heed the Church’s call and enter into Lent with expectation you cannot but be transformed tremendously by our Lord.
PRAYER: Thank you Lord for this special season of grace. Please help me to yield your call to repentance and self-renunciation. Let my heart be transformed this season. Amen.
KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 1430 – Jesus’ call to conversion and penance,…does not aim first at outward works, “sackcloth and ashes,” fasting and mortification, but at the conversion of the heart, interior conversion. Without this, such penances remain sterile and false; however, interior conversion urges expression in visible signs, gestures and works of penance.
HIDE A TREASURE: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 RSV-CE
Today’s Readings: Joel 2: 12-18; Psalm 51: 3-6, 12-14, 17; 2 Corinthians 5: 20-6:2; Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-18