Ash Wednesday


Joel 2:12-18;
2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2;
Matthew 6:1-6,16-18


Ash Wednesday marks not only the beginning of the Lenten season but a day of commitment for many Christians. It is a day when the words of comfort of the First reading from Joel, bring consolation and encouragement, reminding us that our God is a God of tenderness and compassion. This reminds me that as I begin my Lenten resolutions that God will be understanding each time I fail.

Paul adds the surprising revelation that ‘This is the favourable time; this is the day of salvation.” It amuses me that this sombre time of penance is indeed a favourable time and in fact, our salvation begins here and now.

However, it is Matthew, with his inevitable practicality who sets out the pattern for the next six weeks. Our prayer must be private and personal in deep relationship with God; our good deeds and our almsgiving must be done silently and unobtrusively. But it is our fasting and our small daily sacrifices that must be done joyfully and willingly.

Pope Francis is always very clear in his Lenten messages that we are not called to ‘give up’ things for Lent but instead, this is a time to take up a new way of acting and a better way of being.

Margaret Bentley is a Salesian Sister and is currently the Academic Manager at the English Language Studies for Pastoral Ministry (ELSPM) begun by the Passionists in 2014 to enable their students to learn English before continuing to the Novitiate or theological studies.