Ash Wednesday Homily

The Lenten Path c. J. Patrick Mahon

The Lenten Path
c. J. Patrick Mahon

It is that time of year again—Ash Wednesday. Lent has always been seen as a time for repentance. Pope Francis defines repentance as thinking and acting differently. Joel tells us that God does not want tokens and sacrifices. God wants hearts that are open to the Christ dwelling within.

Lenten practice should allow Christ to come more alive in our hearts. Traditionally, even going back to Judaism, the practices are prayer, fasting, and alms. Hence Jesus’ admonitions in today’s Gospel. By prayer we do not mean repetitive lists of wants and needs directed toward God. Lenten practice should deepen our prayer life as resting in God. Listening to God, not chattering away about our various wants and needs. Almsgiving is central to Christian practice. This week, Pope Francis opened three shower facilities on Vatican property for the homeless—almsgiving to the ultimate. Fasting means refraining from food and many other things. Fasting from consumption and consumerism is not a bad idea. Continue reading

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday

Joel (2:12-18) calls for a fast. He calls the people to repentance. Fasting is one of the three key Jewish practices. Prayer and almsgiving round out the set. Repentance is to be personal—rend your hearts. Change your attitudes. Change your ways of thinking. Change your ways of acting. Repent. Turn your lives around. Change your families, your communities and your institutions. Return to God. Joel does not call individuals to repentance. He calls the whole community even those who ordinarily would have been exempt. The community is called to confess its sins and repent in order to avoid further calamity. Continue reading