Day 1: RETURN TO ME – Ash Wednesday
DAY 1: RETURN TO ME – Ash Wednesday
When I see those two words on the calendar, “Ash Wednesday”, my first thought in my mind is” “Well, here we go again. What on earth am I going to do THIS Lent that was different than last year?”. My thoughts go from fear, to hope and then to ambivalence.
“What does it matter? I have never really made sense of Lent all these years. Why is this year going to be any different?”
I know that I should act and feel differently during Lent, but will I? I’m sure I will just simply go back to my old ways of living and then feel guilty that I didn’t DO anything over the 40 days.
Traditionally, many believers give something up in order to mirror the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. But, really, is giving up chocolate on the same level as dying a humiliating and excruciating death? I don’t think so.
Don’t get me wrong. I used to give up things during Lent in an effort to become more holy…to say no to self and yes to God. For those of us living in 2021 and struggling through the pandemic, I think Lent needs to be less about what we have to give up and more about what we need to claim.
It needs to be more about Jesus, and less about ourselves.
Many Catholic lovers of Jesus sport ashes on their forehead to be reminded of their mortality: “Remember that you are dust, and from dust you shall return”. However, the words that a Priest will sometimes use are as follows:
“Repent and believe in the Gospel”
In other words, we need to return to Jesus. Turning back to our First Love.
“Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.”
The Book of Joel is one of the twelve prophetic books known as the Twelve Minor Prophets. In the first section of the book, it is a lament over the great locust plague and drought that occurred. Does this sound familiar? For me I can see a parallel between this and COVID-19. As the book continues, there is a call to repentance: a time for turning BACK to God.
We can claim this: turning back to God in the midst of suffering, heartbreak, disappointment and feelings of hopelessness.
Turning back to God with ALL of our hearts, no matter what condition they may be in at the present time, while there IS still time.
We can come back to God with fasting, weeping and mourning. Most of us have mourned the life we lived prior to March, 2020. I believe it is important that we claim all of these elements in our start to the season of Lent. During the next 40 days we will look at these elements again, as well as sacrifice, joy and acceptance.
The season of Lent is all about turning back to Jesus.
In the days and weeks to come, let us investigate the roles that fasting, weeping and mourning play. Let us claim that for today, on the first day of Lent, that we wear our ashes on our faces and take one single step towards Jesus.
“The Journey to the Cross begins with one single step”.
May we celebrate today, Ash Wednesday, as a day of turning and moving towards Him. That’s all we need to do: just take one single step. May you be blessed in taking this single step to Jesus.