March 2, 2022 •
The ashes represent for us two things. They represent that we were made from the dust of the earth. When our bodies die and corrupt, we're going to turn back into dust. But they also represent repentance. Throughout the Old Testament, whenever someone was calling out to God for mercy, they would take off their nice clothes, they'd put on sackcloth - it really itches - and then they would put ashes on their head. It was one of the ways in which they repented.
So on this day in particular, we begin this season of repentance.
It's always wonderful as a priest, because during the Lenten season so many people come back to Church. They come back and they go to confession, and they start trying to be a good Catholic again.
Usually by the end of Easter, they stop coming again. But it's always good to see them back.
This season in particular, God is pouring out special graces on each one of us to help us repent from our sins.
Without repentance, there is no salvation. When Jesus sent His apostles out to preach, the Gospel message was this: Repent. And believe in the Christ. That's the whole Gospel message. If we don't do the first part, the second part can't help us.
It takes a lot of humility to repent, so it's something we have to continually pray for. Not only for ourselves, but for those of our Catholic brothers and sisters that are in need of repentance. . . . Repentance needs to become a way of life for us.
If you're really good at sinning, your greatest hope is creating a habit of repentance. God may be displeased by your sin, but he's going to be more pleased at your repentance. Those who repent are always saved.
Don't worry about how good you are at sinning, just get better at repenting.
Jl 2:12-18; 2 Cor 5:20--6:2: Mt 6:1-6; 16-18
Homily begins at 9:52