“Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” Today we begin together our Lenten Journey. Lent provides for us an opportunity to reflect on our sinful ways and gives us an opportunity to turn our lives around in order to follow the Lord. As we heard in the last couple lines from St. Paul’s letter to the people of Corinth now is the time. Our salvation is at hand.
In a few moments you will come forward and Ashes will be imposed on your foreheads. The formula for the distribution of ashes is one of two phrases. They are “remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” and “repent and believe in the Gospel.” The first option “remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” reminds us of our own mortality. There will be a time when the Lord will calls us home in which we do not know the day or the hour. Thus, we should always be prepared. The second option “repent and believe in the Gospel” is a commission from the Lord Himself. As we approach the altar of God to receive ashes on our forehead we need to be reminded of both.
“Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” Now is the time for us to turn away from our sinful ways and make a commitment to follow the Lord. We have heard often the phrase, “now is the time.” Indeed, it is the time now to act and make an effort to grow in our spiritual life. Every Lent we are provided an opportunity to give something up. I want to challenge you not to give up something just for the sake of giving something up. Whatever we give up it must be something that is keeping us from growing spiritually. For some people gathered here it just might be the internet and television. Pull the power cord and spend time with the Lord. If there is a particular habit or sin that is keeping one from following the Lord make an effort to give that up this Lent.
We often talk about giving things up during Lent. I would encourage all of us perhaps to take up some good spiritual practices this Lent. If there is a bad habit or sin that we find ourselves falling into we must try to develop a good habit to replace them with. Maybe one can make an effort to attend daily Mass if one schedule allows them during the week. Another good devotion to pick up is the Stations of the Cross which are prayed here at 2PM and 7PM on the Friday’s of Lent. Last but not least one of the greatest things we can do during Lent is utilizing the Sacrament of Reconciliation which the Lord gives us through the Church for the forgiveness of our sins. My brothers and sisters our sins are a roadblock to our spiritual growth so they need to be purged from our lives.
Now I know what goes through some of our minds during Lent. Why should I confess my sins if I am only going to fall back into the same pattern over and over again? Another one would be God won’t forgive me especially since I myself am struggling to forgive. Do not doubt the love and mercy of the Father! If those thoughts are in our minds, that is the evil one trying His very best to keep us from a gift that God wishes to bestow. As we enter into Lent we should be ready to experience temptation but we shouldn’t let that deter us! Remember now is the time! May we make every effort to enter into this Lenten Season by turning away from our sins so that we may continue to follow the Lord!