TOWARDS A DEEPER UNION WITH GOD

Wednesday 10th February – Ash Wednesday

Reflection: Joel 2: 12-18

TOWARDS A DEEPER UNION WITH GOD

As today marks the beginning of the Lenten season, the church specially calls on us to deepen our relationship with our loving Father. This, however, cannot be realised without a sincere acknowledgement and renunciation of our sinful ways coupled with a corresponding willingness to draw closer to God. We are all inadequate and in need of God’s mercy. Today’s first reading goes to encourage us on the superabundance of God’s mercy – “…he is all tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in graciousness” (Joel 2: 13).

The symbolic distribution of ashes on our forehead is meant to call us to contrition (Job 42:6) and as well remind us that our existence here on earth is transient – “ You are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). Beloved in Christ, without periodic introspection we can easily loose sight of the purpose of life and carelessly drift away from God – the source of all goodness.

In other to realise the full benefits of this season; we must consciously go through it with a renewed quest for God and be prepared to be better transformed by Him. The Church in her wisdom has put forward important disciplines we are called to better embrace during this season; namely:

  • Fasting and abstinence
  • Prayer
  • Alms giving

Today’s Gospel clearly admonishes us on the proper way to go about this. As we commit ourselves to these disciplines of lent, we can trust in the abundant grace of God to lead us deeper in union with Him.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, I desire a deeper union with You. Please help me that this season of lent may lead me to be better transformed by you.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 1431- Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, repugnance towards the evil actions we have committed. At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one’s life, with hope in God’s mercy and trust in the help of his grace.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Draw near to god and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you men of double mind.” James 4: 8 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

BROKEN HEARTS OR TORN GARMENTS?

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

BE RECONCILED TO GOD

Wednesday 5th March – Ash Wednesday      

Reflection: 2 Corinthians 5: 20 – 6: 2

BE RECONCILED TO GOD

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season. A time specially set aside by the church for us to re-examine our stand with God. It is a time to contemplate the essence of living; a time to deepen our relationship with God. The symbolic distribution of ashes on our foreheads is a reminder that we are dust and to dust shall we all return. It is a call on us to forsake our sinful ways and be more united to Christ and His mystical body- the Church.

Dearest friend, if we say we have no sin there is no truth in us and we deceive ourselves (1 John 1:8). The more we allow the light of faith to permeate our spirits, the clearer we see those sinful stains which hitherto had been unrecognised. This the Holy Spirit does, not to condemn us but to promote contrition and renunciation of our sins so as to better love and serve God. Beloved in Christ, perhaps it appears your weight of sin is so large and insurmountable? Please do not give in to despair! Today’s first reading (Joel 2:12-18) and other scriptural verses (Isaiah 1:16-18; Psalm 106:1) affirm God’s inestimable mercy and compassion. For our sake Christ died on the cross (Isaiah 53:4-6; Galatians 3:13-14) and His loving arms remain outstretched welcoming us back to Himself.

To be more united to God, we must lovingly embrace the discipline of lent, namely: Prayer, Almsgiving, Fasting and Abstinence. Today’s Gospel reading (Matt 6:1-6, 16-18) clearly tells us how best to go about these. The disciplines of lent are not exclusively for this season, rather it is a time to intensify on them to maximize the benefits of this season.

PRAYER: Dearest Father, may this Lenten season bring me genuine transformation that I may better know You, love You and serve You. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 1431: Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, repugnance towards the evil actions we have committed. At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one’s life, with hope in God’s mercy and trust in the help of his grace.

HIDE A TREASURE: “If my people who are called by name humble themselves , and pray and seek my face , and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” 2 Chronicles 7:14 RSV-CE

Readings for today: Joel 2:12-18; Psalm 51:3-6, 12-17; 2 Corinthians 5: 20-6:2;

Matthew 6:1-6,16-18