– Ash Wednesday –
‘Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.’ [Mt 6:1]
Jesus knew something that others seemingly did not: that we do not need to attract God’s attention through anything we say or do. We already have God’s attention. In fact, God’s ‘attention’ brings us into being and holds us there.
Jesus taught something that seemed radical and new, even though it has its origins in the Old Testament. There we read of the One who knows us intimately (Isaiah 49) and who walks with us as we go on our way (Hosea 11). God is as close to us as our very breath. God holds you in his gaze and, in so doing, breathes you into life (see Genesis 2:7). God looks on you in intense love, patience and mercy.
Among other things, the ashes you wear today are a reminder of the dust from which you are made and a symbol of the life God breathes into you. Throughout this Lent God, who holds you in being, wishes to lead you on a journey that will heal and purify you. It will primarily be a secret journey – unique to you and God.
Perhaps the most significant Lenten observance you could commit yourself to is to find the time to let God sit with you and speak to you.
Without getting bogged down in plans and intentions, give some thought to where and how you would like to pray tomorrow. Take it one day at a time and let God lead.
By Shane Dwyer