Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
Jesus said to his disciples: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”
“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”
“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”
The Gospel of the Lord
Ash Wednesday Gospel Reflection
by Terry Davis, SNDdeN
We spend most of our lives hiding what is wrong with us, what is broken and what has fallen apart. But on Ash Wednesday we wear our darkness on the outside. The smudge of ashes brings us together as a people who have failed, who have run when we should have stayed, who have betrayed those we love. The ashes represent all that has fallen to nothing in our own lives and in our world. When the ashes are smeared across our foreheads, let them carry the places in us where we are lost, where we have fallen and where we know the need for forgiveness.
One of the deepest mysteries of our faith is that it is in the ashes that God meets us, in our very brokenness. It is a terrible gift because we try so desperately to hide failure and to cover over what is messy. But what if God is most present to us along our fault lines, those dangerous cracks so prone to shake our sense of security? While we are preoccupied with obscuring them, we miss the one who walks among all that is frail and meets us where we feel lost.
We enter Lent today, the season when we will re-tell the story of Jesus’ failure and how all he hoped to bring seemed to die as he did. Surely his followers thought it had all come to nothing. And as they ran from the dying or stood in silent love, the dream of a world made new dimmed and slipped away.
But we know that our God breathes life into all that is dead. Perhaps we can spend this graced time of Lent emerging from our hidden places into the wide, forgiving grace that surrounds us and reveals the tender, loving God who is with us always, especially when we fail.
Meet Sr. Terry Davis, SNDdeN
Sister Terry is the Director of Communications for the U.S. East-West Province and an artist based in Stockton, California. Learn more about her here.