March 05, 2014 - Ash Wednesday
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church
What are you giving up for Lent this year?
Have you given it any thought at all? You should.
Lent is our time to return to the Lord.
Lent calls us to conversion.
Jesus lays out our Lenten program for us.
Are we listening to what the Lord wants us to do this Lent?
You see, Jesus is not impressed if we give up soft drinks or candy or gum or sweets or alcohol or smoking.
If we are honest, we don’t give up those things for Jesus. We do those things for ourselves. Our motivations are usually selfish.
Jesus says fasting is important. But it must have purpose.
If we give up something this Lent, if we fast from something,
then our fasting must have a purpose.
Jesus tells us what the purpose is: Almsgiving.
Our fasting and self denial is only beneficial if it helps us in our Lenten call to conversion.
When I give up something for Lent, I use the money I save to sponsor a teenager’s education in Guatemala.
I give up something to do something good and as a result I am changed and so is the young man that I sponsor.
If you don’t have a charity that you support regularly, maybe this Lent is a good time to start.
Our fasting and self denial must be paired with some good work, some almsgiving.
There is one more part of our Lenten program.
And it is perhaps the most important.
We must pray. We must spend time in conversation with God.
This conversation must lead us to conversion.
Conversion is from the Latin word for turning.
Lent is our time to turn away from whatever unjustly and unfairly steals our time and energy. Lent is our time to return to the loving embrace of friends and family.
Lent is our time to turn away from idols of wealth and prestige
that take the place of the Holy One in our lives.
Lent is our time to return to the things of the Lord.
We can only do that if we are in conversation with God.
What are you giving up for Lent this year? It’s not enough.
Jesus says our fasting must be accompanied by almsgiving and prayer.
May the ashes we place on our foreheads today remind us of the Lord’s call to conversion.
May the ashes and prayer of this day be our first turn
in our Lenten journey.
May our journey lead us from the desert to the mount of transfiguration, from Jerusalem to Calvary.
May it be a journey of turning and returning,
from despair to hope, from death to new life.