YEAR C: HOMILY FOR ASH WEDNESDAY
HOMILY THEME: The Best Time to Repent is Now.
BY: Fr. Evaristus Abu
HOMILY: “Yet even now,” says the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” (Joel 2:12-13)
According to Pope Francis: “Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over death. This season urgently calls us to conversion. Christians are asked to return to God “with all their hearts” (Joel 2:12), to refuse to settle for mediocrity and to grow in friendship with the Lord. Jesus is the faithful friend who never abandons us. Even when we sin, he patiently awaits our return; by that patient expectation, he shows us his readiness to forgive.”
The summary of our readings today is “no matter what the past has been, now is the time to return back to God and this return must be real not merely an external show.”
Every year, the voice of the Prophet Joel ushers us into the season of Lent with a beautiful message of hope that begins with two powerful words: “EVEN NOW”. If you are alive today and are able to read or listen to this message, it means God has given you another chance. It is not too late to return with all your heart to him.
In this same line, we hear St. Paul in our second reading saying: “Now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” Procrastination, they say is the thief of time. Never keep until tomorrow whatever good you can do today because you do not know what day would be your last day on earth.
This very fact is what is symbolized by the Ashes we receive today. “Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return.” The Ashes are not mere decorations neither are they some sort of “get-lucky” charm. They are simply meant to remind us of the urgency of repentance; the fact that we came from earth and we shall soon return back. Now is the all we have.
Take it that you might not live to see the next lent. Make the best of this as though it were your very last. Enter into this season with sincerity and a genuine purpose. Do not show off, do not give anyone the impression of holiness. As Joel says: “Rend your heart not you garment.” And as Jesus says: “Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for you will have no reward in heaven.”
During this Lenten season, the church offers us certain great keys to aid our return to God. These include: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Amongst all of these, the most popular is fasting. Nevertheless, note that Fasting from food helps to discipline the flesh and put its desires to check but it must be accompanied by more time devoted to prayer otherwise it becomes unfruitful and the food we would have eaten must not simply be saved but offered to the poor. If no one benefits from your fast, it is not complete.
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, grant me the grace of genuine repentance. Amen.
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Ash Wednesday. Bible Study: Joel 2:12-18, Psalm 50, 2nd Corinthians 5:20-6:2 and Matthew 6:1-6; 16-18).
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