HOMILY FOR ASH WEDNESDAY YEAR B
THEME: SEASON OF RENEWAL
BY: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
HOMILY: God is constantly offering us opportunities to renew and deepen our relationship with Him and to make amends for the failures we may have accumulated as a result of human frailty. To make fruitful use of these opportunities, there is always the need to sit back and evaluate how deeply rooted are our commitments with God and how sincere are our dealings with our brothers and sisters. The Season of Lent is always a period to achieve these goals and to level and make smooth the rough parts of our lives. May we be renewed in our Yes to God; Amen.
Every Liturgical Year is a Spiritual Journey that brings us to celebrate the various mysteries of the Life of Christ and to prepare and open ourselves to receive the blessings and favours that accompany the worthy and fruitful celebration of these mysteries. With the Liturgy of the Ash Wednesday, we begin a Forty Days Journey with the Lord, making concrete the sorrowful moments of His life and mission, and most importantly, preparing for the celebration of the Paschal Mysteries of His suffering, death and resurrection. The Season of Lent is a period of intense self-examination and evaluation. It is a moment of refill, in which we open ourselves to be filled with the graces and blessings and virtues that are necessary and indispensable for a fruitful and successful living of the Christian Life. The reception of ashes is a concrete sign that we are ready to take this path by the special grace of God and by the power of the Holy Spirit. By sincerely receiving ashes, we recognise our guilt, declare our unworthiness, proclaim our helplessness, profess our openness to God’s offer of grace and mercy, and affirm our readiness to cooperate with the operation of divine grace and to positively respond to God’s invitation to us on a daily basis. Hence, reception of ashes is an outward sign of the sincere inward disposition to walk with God. Devoid of this disposition, the reception of ashes becomes a hypocritical show of piety that has no spiritual merits and no salvific significance. This was the central message of the Prophet Joel in the First Reading of today’s liturgy (Joel 2:12-18); “let your hearts be broken, not your garments torn, turn to the Lord your God again, for He is all tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in graciousness, and ready to relent.”
This disposition to walk with God naturally breeds certain disciplines that foster and sustain the spiritual life and the stability needed to wage and win the wars against the forces of darkness. Speaking to His disciples in the Gospel Reading (Mt 6:1-6, 16-18), our Lord Jesus stipulated the mode in which these disciplines are to be practiced in order to yield the desired spiritual effects. The fruitfulness of these disciplines is based on the ability to carry them out as God wishes us to carry them out and never according to our imaginations and worldly constructions; “your almsgiving must be secret… when you pray, go to your private room… when you fast no one should know you are fasting except your Father who sees all that is done in secret; and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.” It is a pity that we live in a time that the belief in public display and show-off is the order of the day. There is always the tendency to place everything to public view whereas the innermost being is empty and in disarray. Against this mindset, our Lord Jesus Christ requests of us an attitude different from what the world proposes and imposes on us. The true Christian attitude is that of emphasis on the interior man and woman and not on the frivolous and noisy display of emptiness. The Season of Lent is a period to fortify this inner sphere and to create the largest room for reconciliation with God; and by natural consequence, for reconciliation with our brothers and sisters. This was the purpose of Saint Paul’s appeal to the people of Corinth in the Second Reading of today (2 Cor 5:20-6:2); “the appeal that we make in Christ’s name is: be reconciled to God.” Our Lenten Journey is fruitful when this goal is achieved within us.
May our journey with God through this Lenten Season disconnect us from old ungodly ways and reconnect us to the path of God, leading us to integral flourishing; Amen.
May you have fruitful Lenten Season; Fr Cyril CCE