Theme: REPENT, AND BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL
- Joel 2:12-18;
- Psalm 50:3-6. 12-14. 17. R/ v. 3;
- 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2
- Matthew 6:1-6. 16-18
Today we celebrate Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent! Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter, that is, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and our resurrection with him in the sacrament of Baptism! That is why Lent is a time when our catechumens prepare for their Baptism and when we prepare to renew our Baptism on Easter Vigil Night! That is why Lent is a time of repentance!
Indeed, the first reading is “a call to repentance”! (NJB) Thus we read in the first reading:
“‘Now, now – it is the Lord who speaks – come back to me with all your heart, fasting, weeping, mourning.’ Let your hearts be broken not your garments torn, turn to the Lord your God again, for he is all tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in graciousness, and ready to relent.” (Jl 2:12-13; SM)
The responsorial psalm is a “prayer of repentance”! (CSB) Thus we responded four times:
“Have mercy on us, O Lord, for we have sinned.” (Ps 50:3; SM)
The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas ask God to forgive our sins. The third and fourth stanzas ask God to give us the Holy Spirit so that we will not sin anymore!
The second reading tells us to be reconciled to God now, because God has already reconciled us to himself in Jesus Christ! Thus the caption of the second reading:
“Be reconciled to God …. now is the favorable time.”
The gospel today tells us to pray, to fast and to give alms to the poor, not as a punishment for our sins, but to help us to repent during this time of Lent! That is why during this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms to the poor! That is why in giving the ashes, the priest says:
“Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” (Mk 1:15)
Fr. Nicholas Ong, Holy Trinity Catholic Church (HTCC), Tawau, Sabah, Malaysia,