February 17, 2021 — Year B
Readings: Jl 2:12-18 / Ps 51 / 2 Cor 5:20-6:2 / Mt 6:1-6, 16-18
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
Today, Ash Wednesday, as we begin the forty-day season of Lent, we may have at the back of our minds that this is the time we are supposed to give up something. Many, perhaps, will ask, “Is there anything else left that we can still give up?”
Since the beginning of this pandemic, we might feel, and rightfully so, that we have already given up quite a bit in our lives. We gave up shaking hands, gathering for parties in our homes or elsewhere, traveling, and going on vacations. Even in the church, we have given up sitting in our favorite pews and, for a good number of us, due to our health conditions, we are forced to give up being physically present in our liturgical celebration in the church.
And of course, we have to make a sacrifice by wearing face coverings during the Mass. It is beyond doubt that this pandemic sort of forced us to make the sacrifices of Lent for about a year now.
Giving up something is part of our spiritual exercises, but it is not the essence of Lent. In fact, even if we give up the act of giving up, we can still be fine in the eyes of Our Lord.
Our goal in the Lenten season is no different from what we aim to do as Christians all throughout our lives: that is, to be closer to God than we were before. Our spiritual exercises during Lent, like prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, are practices that will lead us closer to Our Lord.
If you love somebody, usually you would like to be close to him or her. It is but natural for you to have the desire to be around that person, and you are always interested in what is going on in his or her life.
The good news is that God loves us even more than we love ourselves. And He knows us more than we know ourselves.
During this Lent, would it be too much if we would spend a few minutes a day getting to know God better, so we could love Him more? One of the best ways to do this is to read God’s words in the sacred scriptures.
This year, here in Holy Name of Mary, before the ashes will be sprinkled on our heads, we will hear the words, “Repent, and believe the Gospel.” I suggest that, in the next forty days of Lent, read one chapter of the Gospel each day.
We may start by reading the Gospel of Mark, then follow it up by reading Luke’s Gospel. These two Gospels have a total of forty chapters, which is perfect for the forty days of Lent.
If you read the sacred scriptures every day, I don’t need to tell you what else you need to do. God’s living words will be your guide on how to be close to God and live life in all its fullness.