Wednesday 22 February 2023 – ASH WEDNESDAY – True Fasting

1st Reading: Jl 2:12-18

Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God.  For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment.  Perhaps he will again relent and leave behind him a blessing, offerings and libations for the Lord, your God.  Blow the trumpet in Zion! proclaim a fast, call an assembly; Gather the people, notify the congregation; Assemble the elders, gather the children and the infants at the breast; Let the bridegroom quit his room and the bride her chamber. Between the porch and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep, and say, “Spare, O Lord, your people, and make not your heritage a reproach, with the nations ruling over them! Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’” Then the Lord was stirred to concern for his land and took pity on his people.

2nd Reading: 2Cor 5:20—6:2

Brothers and sisters: We are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him. Working together, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says: In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you. Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

Gospel: Mt 6:1-6, 16-18                                

Jesus said to his disciples: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. “When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

True Fasting: We have started the Lenten Season, a forty day period. Three important things emerge: First, we are invited to pray more. Prayer gets us closer to God. Through prayer we unite more with the pilgrim church (on earth), with those in purgatory (those who need our prayers), and with the church of the saints (those that are already in heaven praying for us).  Second, we are called to fast. This is an invitation to self-denial for the sake of the less fortunate. When we fast, that which we set aside should go to the poor. There are ways set out by the church and in our Small Christian Communities for these procedes to reach to the poor. We do not set aside as a way of increasing our savings. Third, we pray in order to avoid sin. There are dispositions that lead us towards sin. This is a time  to work on our sinful desires and do all to be closer to God. Let us use well, the Sacrament of Reconciliation. When we take these steps we shall have used this season profitably. 

PRAYER: Dear Lord, grant that we profit from this season and be closer to you. Amen.


BE RECONCILED: The season of Lent prepares the Christian faithful to the singular most important event of the human history – the salvation. This day begins the most important preparatory season with a call to conversion. It is the season for reconciliation with the self, with others, with the environment, and with God. Sin acts as insulation that prevents us from noticing and even benefitting from the wealth of spiritual goods. We thus must marshal the courage to rend our hearts and dispose ourselves for divine favour. Through the sacrament of penance and reconciliation, we are invited to draw near to God. Before us is placed an abundance of divine mercy for all who wish to approach it. In the Gospel text, the Lord sets out what should be central in this Lenten season: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. To turn back to God, we need to establish our relationship with him through constant prayer, a desire to sacrifice and mortify the self as well us an active concern for the welfare of the poor and less fortunate in society.

Prayer: Loving Father, help me to get reconciled with you and my brothers and sisters during this lent through the sacrament of reconciliation.