A very blessed Ash Wednesday to you all.
As we begin this Lenten journey, allow me to share my reflection (adapted for this site) offered this morning at an Ash Wednesday prayer service on the Queens campus of St. John’s University in St. Thomas More Church.
In a few minutes, you will be invited to come forward to receive your ashes. Before we do this, I will lead us through a short reflection to center ourselves on what is at the heart of this day and of the Lenten season, and that is love.
Take a deep breath or two.
When ready, I invite you to recall a memory when you were loved.
- It may have been when you were a young child, loved by a parent, grandparent, family member, sibling or teacher.
- It may be a friend who celebrated with you or a friend who mourned with you.
- It may be a time when you fell in love, and couldn’t wait to see that person again.
- It may be when you were finally heard and understood for who you truly are.
- It may be when a small child held your hand and looked into your eyes with wonder and awe.
Whatever your memory is, let us take time this morning to go back to that place and try to feel what you felt then.
(Pause for a minute or so and reflect on this experience of love)
I invited you to participate in this brief exercise because it reveals just a hint of God’s love for us.
Today we begin a 40 day journey to fall in love again with God, to recommit ourselves to living as Jesus did. The Church offers us three ways to do this:
The first path to falling in love again with God is prayer- how might you find time in these 40 days to reconnect to God and to others. Dwell in this love, just as you started to do in this reflection.
The second path is almsgiving. One way to achieve this is by sharing some of your financial blessings.
You can also share your gifts and talents with those in need, or in service to others. You can stand up to injustice and be an ally to those who are marginalized.
Just imagine if someone else, when asked to recall a time when they were loved, reflected on how you shined God’s love in their life. What a challenge- what an opportunity- what a gift!
The third path is fasting, an ancient practice that grounds us during this season. As we fast from meat and food at different points, we are also invited to fast from those behaviors that are not rooted in love, those actions that keep us from being in right relationship with God and with others.
These 40 days of Lent present an opportunity for us to emerge on the other side of this holy season as being deeply in love with our God.
Finally, as you walk across campus today others will know you are a Christian because of the ashes on your head. During this Lenten season, and in all the days that follow, may others know we are in love with God, that we are truly Christ-like, no longer by the mark on our skin, but by the way we love ourselves and one another.
Let us pray for one another this holy season and may we love as we have been loved.