Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, and with the sign of the cross smeared on our foreheads with ashes to remind us that we are dust, and to dust we shall return.
Ash Wednesday is the gateway to the season of Lent, the season of returning to God “with your whole heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God.” (Joel 2:12-13).
Returning to God or to the right path is:
– to respond to a God who has created us in his own image and has loved, nurtured and protected us with his eternal love, and
– to reform our lives and do our best to live our earthly lives more fully and allowing God to transform us.
Ash Wednesday reminds us of death – the returning to dust- or THE END of our earthly journey and THE BEGINNING of a life BEYOND.
Embracing this holy season of Lent is to amend and to “clean out” our hearts so that God can pour his love into us. Our hearts are like a cup. If the cup was filled, then there will be no place for something new and beautiful to sprout and grow in our hearts.
So as we receive ashes, let’s each NOT simply be asking God to keep us from sin. Rather, let’s ask God to give us courage and strength to EMPTY:
OUT of our cup of hearts, so that God can pour his mercy into us and plant the seeds of something new and magnificent in our hearts.
“A clean heart create for me, God, renew within me a steadfast spirit.” (Psalm 51:12).
Deacon Joe Nguyen