February 17, 2021 At St. Peter & St. William Churches in Naples, FL
Joel 2, 12-18 + Psalm 51 + 2 Corinthians 5, 20 – 6, 2 + Mark 6, 1-6, 16-18
Using a word that has its origins in the vocabulary of theater, “mask”,Jesus warns us against being hypocrites.In simpler terms, he tells us to take off our masks so that there is no difference between the inside and the outside. With these ashes today, we turn our lives inside out, and what is hidden inside comes to the surface.
What all of us find inside is a lot of debris. It needs to be cleaned out allowing the mercy of God to find a place that is too often crowded with guilt, resentment, and sometimes, anger. This is not a season to give up or do without. It is a season of becoming. There is no growth found in doing without unless something takes its place.
If we stop something, we should start something. Otherwise, what we stop could find it’s place again. So, I would suggest that if you give something up for Lent you must take up something to put in its place. The point of all this is growth which amounts to conversion and repentance. Penitential acts are at root deeply positive. They give us an opportunity to express our sorrow to God for wrongdoings, and to do so in a spirit of joyful confidence in the mercy of God. Having experienced that mercy, we have it to share.
What we do during the next forty days must set us free, free from our complacency, free from the masks we wear pretending that we are something we are not. It is time now to ask the Lord to do once more what he did on the sixth day; to form the dust and ashes of our lives into humble vessels of his glory. By the Incarnation, by becoming one of us, Christ has changed, made holy and divine the dust of our humanity. His blood soaking into the dust of Calvary’s hill sanctifies the very dust from which we are made.
These ashes we shall soon bless were made by fire.We should remember that we are dust, but that is not all we are. We are created to be fire.