Mt 6:1-18 Ashes
Today we begin the Lenten season which recalls the final days and hours in the life of Christ. It is an opportunity to re-examine one's life. How I need to do so! How I need to take some time to stop, examine my conscience, and change course. In other words, it is an opportunity for renewal, growth and deeper devotion to our Christian mission here on earth.
How do we begin it all? We begin with a moving event; we begin with ashes. What are ashes? Simple: “Non-living dust.” To me this is a perfect and eloquent reminder of what sin is. Sin is a waste of a life - this marvelous, incredible gift that God has given to all of us. I AM ALIVE! Do we fully understand the marvel of being! I am alive! I was pushed through this incomprehensible wall of not-being to being. For this reason alone, sin is the deadliest of all of my life’s enemies. It kills all that is living. Sin brings death to life. It turns something beautiful into something ugly, a smudge mark. Sin makes us filthy, dirty, dusty, ashy looking.
Can we be positive for a moment? Ok, I guess we can say that sin leaves me empty. It is not even a momentary rush! It is an eternal illusion, a never ending vicious cycle between who I am and who I ought to be. Sin leaves skid marks for life!
Why must I recall to mind my sins? I will never appreciate what the Lord has done for me if I do not fully comprehend what I have done to the Lord!
“What is wrong with the world?”
G.K. Chesterton was once asked to write an essay on “What is wrong with the world?” His essay was the shortest: two words. He wrote, “I am.” His answer is the best! What is wrong with the world today? Is it teenagers or terrorism (they may appear to be the same thing but there are some slight differences). Does the problem start with “us”, “them”, or “people”? No. The answer is “I”. I am what is wrong with the world today! I am responsible for bringing so many tears into the world! I am the cause of another’s pain and suffering. I confess that I have sinned, in my thoughts and in my words; in what I have done and in what I have failed to do. I am what wipes a smile from another’s face. I am what some people dread!
Sin begins with me. It enters the world through me. And it spreads throughout the world because of me. The devil would have no power in this world if I denied it my hands or my feet, my eyes or my tongue. The devil would have no stage to dance if it were not through me! I know for certain that my sins have caused the tears of many. Have your sins damaged a soul, caused a scandal in the family or allowed another to suffer?
Lent is a reminder that money, power and fame are not the cure to sadness. Sin will never satisfy a dying man’s thirst for love or fill his heart with joy. We may be shocked with this truth. We might even rebel at the sound of it. But how is it possible that a famous group (that made a ton of money, could have any drug they chose, and any woman they could hold) would write a song entitled, “I can’t get no satisfaction?” They could do so only once they discovered the truth.
Christ is the Truth! Christ is what satisfies the human heart. Christ is all that I need.
“Remember, man, you are dust and dust you shall return” (Gen 3:19).
"Now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2Cor 6:2). Today is an acceptable day to come back to the Lord with all your hearts; leave the past in ashes and turn to God with tears and fasting, for he is slow to anger and ready to forgive. (Joel 2:13)