Ash Wednesday of Lent
March 6, 2019 Cycle C

by Rev. Jose Maria de Sousa Alvim Calado Cortes Cortes, F.S.C.B.
Chaplain, Saint John Paul II National Shrine, Washington, D.C.

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Sunday Reading Meditations

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

“Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return” (Gn 3: 19).

We start Lent with the imposition of ashes on our foreheads, as a reminder that we are dust.

It is not pleasant to hear someone saying that we are dust! We would prefer hearing that we are the best, that we are great, that we are extraordinary!

We are deluding ourselves if we believe that we are the owners and makers of our lives, that we are self-sufficient. At every moment, God alone sustains us.

We are nothing. However, we have an infinite desire to live. Lent is a time to turn to the One who can make us live. It is a time of conversion, a time to find the One who has made us.

“Return to me with your whole heart” (Jl 2:12). This is what the Father desires. He ardently wants us to come back to him. He asks for our whole heart because he wants to give us everything. With the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus, the Father wants to transform dead dust into eternal spirit.

The Father wants to hear the words of the psalm from us: “Have mercy on me, O God, for we have sinned” (Ps 41:4). He wants to hear us say: “We forgot you, we live as if you did not exist but now we understand that without you we are nothing but dust that the wind disperses.”

“Give me back the joy of your salvation” (Ps 51:12). We need to feel that we are really saved, that we are totally supported by God’s presence.

In the second reading, Saint Paul says: “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20). In Saint Paul’s words, we hear the Church imploring us to reconnect our lives to God.

The Gospel says that our Father sees in secret and repays us. Conversion is to let the divine light permeate everything that truly interests us: love, work, money, family and so on. Conversion is to present all that we are before the Father, so that we do not end up as dust.

 “And your Father who sees in secret will repay you” (Mt 6:4). Embarking upon our Lenten path, we seek the reward that Jesus promised us.

“Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return.”

Jesus makes our lives more than dust. Following him on his Way of the Cross, we can participate in the astounding miracle of the transfiguration of dust into glorious flesh.

We start this Lenten season by asking Our Lady to help us grow in our love of Jesus.  Amen.