“Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” (Joel 2:12-13)
Every year, the voice of the Prophet Joel ushers us into the season of Lent with a beautiful message of hope that begins with two powerful words: “EVEN NOW”. If you are alive today and are able to read or listen to this message, it means God has given you another chance. It is not too late to return with all your heart to him.
Saint Paul in our second reading adds: “Now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” Procrastination, they say, is the thief of time. Never keep until tomorrow whatever good you can do today because you do not know what day would be your last day on earth.
This very fact is what is symbolized by the ashes we receive today. “Remember that you are dust and unto dust, you shall return.” Ashes remind us of our own death; the fact that one day, we shall become dust, and the fact that we profit nothing if we gain the world and lose our souls.
Make the most of this Lent; apply yourself fully to all the spiritual exercises with sincerity and a genuine purpose. Do not show off. Joel says: “Rend your heart, not your garment.” Jesus warns: “Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for you will have no reward in heaven.”
During this Lenten season, the church offers us certain great keys to aid our return to God. These include prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Fasting helps to discipline the flesh and put its desires to check but it must be accompanied by prayer.
Secondly, if we must fast, whatever is saved should be for the benefit of the hungry. In other words, fasting and prayer must go with charity (almsgiving). Above all, let us never get tired of doing good.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, grant me the grace of genuine repentance. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Bible Study: Joel 2:12-18, Ps. 51:3-6,12-14,17, 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2, Matthew 6:1-6,16-18).*
@Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu