When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Two related formulas accompany today’s application of ashes. The first highlights our mortality: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Sooner or later, we die—and “later” is still quite soon! We “are like grass that dies. It sprouts green in the morning; by evening it is dry and withered” (Ps. 90:5-6). When is the last time we meditated on our own mortality? Such pondering might shed significant light on our present life and lead to helpful changes for our eternal future.
The other formula, “Repent and believe in the Gospel,” reminds us that our return to dust is not God’s fault but results from sin. “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Lent invites us to imitate the lost son (Lk. 15), leaving behind harmful patterns of thought, word or action and running toward our Father whose life and mercy embrace us. Regular celebration of Reconciliation empowers our continual conversion, freeing us from sin and for the Gospel!
—Fr. Rob Kroll, SJ is the Superior of the Jesuit Community at Creighton Prep. Fr. Kroll also teaches French and Sacraments at Creighton Prep.
“The most important thing in the life of every man and every woman is not that they should never fall along the way. The important thing is always to get back up, not to stay on the ground licking your wounds. The Lord of mercy always forgives me; he always offers me the possibility of starting over. He loves me for what I am, he wants to raise me up, and he extends his hand to me. This is one of the tasks of the Church: to help people perceive that there are no situations that they cannot get out of. For as long as we are alive it is always possible to start over, all we have to do is let Jesus embrace us and forgive us.”
—Pope Francis, The Name of God Is MercyPlease share the Good Word with your friends!