Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, today we enter into the season of Lent, the season for repentance, and season for the blossoming of new hope and faith in God. For in this 40 days season of Lent, we have a great chance to bring ourselves ever closer to God, and to make ourselves ready to welcome God into our hearts, as we approach the most important liturgical season of the year, that is the Holy Week.
Today we receive the ashes, that is none other than the ashes produced by the burning of the palms from the previous year’s blessed palms of the Palm Sunday. These ashes which the priest will place on our foreheads are the reminder of our mortality and our fragility. It serves as a reminder for us, that we are human, and that we are limited, and ultimately, we are nothing before God, and our lives are just but a fleeting moment.
We have to prepare ourselves this Lent, and nothing better than to begin with humility, to humbly ask God for forgiveness. By the imposition of ashes, we show that we are ready to lower ourselves before God, most merciful and most loving.
These ashes may symbolise that we are nothing and that all we have are temporary, but even from the ashes, we can rise again to be great. Our sinful way of life and this world is just temporary, and therefore, let us do our best, not to be trapped, not to be ensnared by the false temptations and evils, and rather, let us make best use of our short and temporary existence in this world.
Let us turn our hearts to God, and sincerely ask for His forgiveness for our constant rebellion against Him. For in our human weakness, the evil one had had many tools to subvert us and lured us into sin to serve his own purposes, that is most importantly to separate us for eternity from the loving embrace of God. Let us use this Lenten season to rebuke Satan as Christ did when He was tempted during His 40 days retreat in the desert. Let us say no to Satan and his malicious ways, and reject him in all that we do. Make this Lenten season a holy and meaningful season, dedicated in prayer to God.
Let us approach the Lord with great humility and a loving heart reserved for Him alone. This is why Christ rebuked those whose hypocrisy made them pray in a very visible way, that is to be seen by all the people around them, with example being the Pharisees at that time. It is actually fine to show one’s great holiness, and indeed, one’s great faith and holiness, when shown, may deliver many to redemption too.
However, there is no prayer best than when we are alone with Him. To me, the best prayers are made, whenever I am in an empty shower in an empty bathroom, in my own room without anyone else, where, I can truly listen to the Lord speaking to me, and also to be able then to also speak to the Lord without restraint. Since, when we are alone with Him, we are truly open to Him, just as He is open to us. When someone is around us, less so a crowd, vanity, pride, and other sins will unavoidably arise in our hearts, and our focus will eventually be not entirely at the Lord anymore. No, indeed, if we allow our vanity and pride to grow great, we may end up focusing on ourselves, our own achievements by being ‘holy’ and ‘looked up to’ by the people.
Thus, today, let us, brothers and sisters in Christ, prepare ourselves for the Lord, make the best use out of this Lenten season. Do penance and repent sincerely, and the Lord will see our hearts and found them to be worthy. Let us step up our efforts in prayer and in our mission, in our work for the good of all around us, especially in this holy, Lenten season. Happy Lent everyone! Amen.