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Ash Wednesday 2017

Ash Wednesday A 2017

Its evening, and we are all tired, so I will only take a few minutes to talk about
Ash Wednesday
1. When we want to go out to a party or to some sort of celebration we want to look
good, we wash ourselves, wear make up (some of you anyway) and put on our best
clothes. To wear ashes on the other hand, is the opposite: it is to downplay the
appearance that life is a party, to downplay the material, the exterior and to focus
on the interior: our spiritual life.
2. Ashes have traditionally been a symbol of death: in many cultures the dead are
cremated and all that is left after death are ashes. Nothing material remains after
3. The reading from the prophet Joel talks about the need for repentance, for renewal,
for returning to God. There are 15 prophets in the Bible and their message always
focuses on 2 topics: worship only one God and help the poor. That is the type of
conversion that pleases God.
4. The message of Mardi Gras is to party, celebrate life and the pleasures of the body.
The message of Ash Wednesday is that there is more to life than partying and
selfish pleasure. We need to sober up.. The wearing ashes symbolizes the fact that
we are refocusing our life away from the body, the material things and are
reflecting on spiritual concerns.
5. Todays Gospel warns us not to wear ashes just for show and to win approval from
others. That would be hypocrisy. The repentance acceptable to God is an interior
change of attitude, it is the refocusing of our life on what is important.
6. Ash Wednesday is a call to change our value system, not to give up chocolate for
Lent. There is not inherent value in giving things up unless we do it for the right
Isaiah 58:5-8
This kind of special day is not what I want.
This is not the way I want people to be sorry for what they have done.
I dont want people just to bow their heads like a plant
and wear rough cloth and lie in ashes to show their sadness.
This is what you do on your special days when you fast,
but do you think this is what the Lord wants?
I will tell you the kind of fast I want:
Free the people you have put in prison unfairly
and undo their chains.
Free those to whom you are unfair
and stop their hard labor.
Share your food with the hungry
and bring poor, homeless people into your own homes.
When you see someone who has no clothes, give him yours,
and dont refuse to help your own relatives.
Then your light will shine like the dawn,
and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your God will walk before you,
and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.