Ash Wednesday came and went and perhaps for the first time in a while, we were obedient to the words of Matthew’s Gospel that are given to us on that day:
When you pray go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.
And when you fast do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do; they pull long faces to let men know they are fasting. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your heads and wash your face, so that no one will know you are fasting except your Father who see all the is done in secret.
(Matthew 6:6, 16-18)
Perhaps last Wednesday we were able to quietly and privately mark the beginning of the Lenten season and think about how we might open our lives up to the renewing presence of the God who seeks us out each Lent. Yet, as well as Lent being a personal journey it is also a public and a communal journey. There is something about coming together as a community and acknowledging our human vulnerability and limitations. As human beings we often experience the limits of our own inner resources to respond to all that life puts before us. As Christians, we acknowledge that we are created beings, called to live in relationship with the God who breathed life into us and brought us into being. Our communal coming together at the beginning of Lent is a reminder that God is still at work bringing creation into being – both us and the whole of the created world.
So on the First Sunday of Lent we will have the blessing and sprinkling of Ashes during our Sunday Masses. Together we will mark the Lenten journey towards Easter and Pentecost. We will pray with and for each other and ask God to enter our fragile world and our vulnerable lives and bring new life.
Let’s also remember and pray for all of those who are preparing for baptism and confirmation this Easter or Pentecost. There are a number of such adults in our own parishes who we will introduce to you over the coming weeks. They can be a great reminder to each of us of the new life and hope that God continues to offer.