Dear God, open a door for my message, so that I may proclaim the mystery of Christ. I pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Colossians 4:3-4

R4C

R4C
Reconciliation and Forgiveness ~ I am Sorry * Please Forgive Me * Thank You * I Love You. ~ Reconciliation and Forgiveness ~ I am Sorry * Please Forgive Me * Thank You * I Love You. ~ Reconciliation and Forgiveness ~ I am Sorry * Please Forgive Me * Thank You * I Love You.
Psalm 19:14, May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Ash Wednesday ~ 2017



Reflection

One of my dearest friends used to have a sign on the outside of his office door. It read, “O Lord, make me interruptible.” It was an act of hospitality, of course, but also a sincere prayer. I’ve tried to imitate this, but the fact is, I don’t like interruptions. I don’t like having my very important train of thought derailed, my time taken in an unplanned way by God-knows-what. 

Then I think of St. Benedict saying, “Let every guest be received as Christ himself.” Even the rudest, most untimely interruption could be a visit from no less than the Savior himself.

Lent is an interruption. It starts, for heaven’s sake, on a Wednesday. It tears a work week in half. This is not convenient timing for us, if God wants our attention. We’re busy people, and we’re doing good things.

But the interruption of Ash Wednesday is about as intentional as it can be. Today it is not business as usual. A lot is at stake. Whatever we cling to tightly, whatever tethers us or binds us or weighs us down from the true freedom for which we were made—today we want to at least begin to loosen our grasp, and give it back to its rightful owner.

Today is a day to be interrupted by God’s news, God’s good news, God’s promise to heal and transform. We mark ourselves with the blackness of the earth itself, a humbling reminder that our best intentions, our best resolutions, our best efforts have too often crumbled to dust in the ways we allow ourselves to be pulled in other directions. 

We don’t do any of these things to be noticed. Jesus gives us a more than adequate warning against religious showmanship. We do Ash Wednesday not to look good, but because God wants to make us become good. The purpose is the heart, or Lent has no purpose at all.

We have a compass, a direction for our 40-day walk in the desert, and it points to Easter. Where do want to be, as Christians, as people, come Easter? We want to be ready, of course. But readiness is not as simple as how hard or long we pray, how severely we fast or how many things we give up, how much money we give to charity or how many hours of service we do. It is really about how deeply we can yield to what God wants to do with us, in us, through us. 

If we’re not careful, our Lenten activity and religious practices can reinforce our sense of control, when the invitation is always to give up control and trust God alone. In other words, to allow God to be God for us.

“Now is the acceptable time,” says St. Paul. “Now is the day of salvation!” The interruption of Ash Wednesday cracks us open. Through that crack, how deep will we allow God to go in us this Lent?

O Lord, make us interruptible.

by: Father Michael Connors, CSC, ’83 M.Div.
Director, John S. Marten Program in Homiletics
Associate Professional Specialist, Theology

source: Faith ND, University of Notre Dame


Ash Wednesday

Reading 1
Joel 2:12-18
Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.
Perhaps he will again relent
and leave behind him a blessing,
Offerings and libations
for the LORD, your God.

Blow the trumpet in Zion!
proclaim a fast,
call an assembly;
Gather the people,
notify the congregation;
Assemble the elders,
gather the children
and the infants at the breast;
Let the bridegroom quit his room
and the bride her chamber.
Between the porch and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep,
And say, "Spare, O LORD, your people,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
with the nations ruling over them!
Why should they say among the peoples,
'Where is their God?'"

Then the LORD was stirred to concern for his land
and took pity on his people.


Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 51:3-4, 5-6ab, 12-13, 14, 17
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.

R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
For I acknowledge my offense,
and my sin is before me always:
"Against you only have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight."

R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.

R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.

R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.

Reading 2
2 Corinthians 5:20 - 6:2
Brothers and sisters:
We are ambassadors for Christ,
as if God were appealing through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin,
so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

Working together, then,
we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
For he says:

In an acceptable time I heard you,
and on the day of salvation I helped you.

Behold, now is a very acceptable time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.

Verse Before The Gospel
If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.


Gospel
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
Jesus said to his disciples:
"Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms,
do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

"When you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room,
close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

"When you fast,
do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast,
anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you."

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