Ash Wednesday, March 1, 2017
You can find the full readings here. This Lectio is based on the Old Testament reading, Joel 2:12-18.
Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.
Perhaps he will again relent
and leave behind him a blessing,
Offerings and libations
for the LORD, your God.
Blow the trumpet in Zion!
proclaim a fast,
call an assembly;
Gather the people,
notify the congregation;
Assemble the elders,
gather the children
and the infants at the breast;
Let the bridegroom quit his room
and the bride her chamber.
Between the porch and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep,
And say, “Spare, O LORD, your people,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
with the nations ruling over them!
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?'”
Then the LORD was stirred to concern for his land
and took pity on his people.
return to me with your whole heart, rend your hearts, let the priests … weep, took pity
The first step of recovery is recognizing we need help. As we enter this period of Lent, the Church calls us to see ourselves as we are. It’s a difficult proposition. Our lives are busy. Our attention is drawn elsewhere – anywhere but inwardly. Our thoughts of ourselves are not introspective and lack depth. Like our thoughts of others and of God, our thoughts of ourselves are distorted.
“God you know me. You know me better than I know myself. Show me who I really am, and who you’ve called me to be.” This small prayer is one I use often. I know that I can’t see myself clearly, but God can. And when the Holy Spirit searches me and shows me those parts of me that I’m withholding from God’s grace, I can then repent of my hardheartedness.
“God resists the proud,” the book of James tells us. How can I be proud when I’m laid bare before the loving look of Jesus? Jesus, help us return to you. Seek those hidden parts, and let the light of your love bring them to your Light.