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Ash Wednesday reflection

posted in: Holy Cross

by Sister Shibanlin Nongsiej, CSC

Yet even now, says the Lord return to me with your whole heart.

Scripture passages referenced in this reflection are Joel 2:12-18, 2 Corinthians 5:20–6:2 and Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
Jesus, bring me back upright when I am knocked down. Help me to never forget that when I have you, I have everything.

Now and again we are flattened by a really heavy blow, but we do not stay down because Jesus is with us. We may be treated badly by others and may have to go through hard times, but because of Jesus, our life is full of blessings. We may appear to have nothing but because we have Jesus, we actually possess everything. We may be sorrowful but we always are rejoicing.

God’s power at work through the presence of the Spirit empowers us to press on with a discerning wisdom that only he can provide. We are consoled by the fact that, yes, there will be suffering, and, yes, there will be hardships; but at the end of the day, there is the conviction that we really do have everything, which gives a joyful richness to life that involves right relationships with God, with others and with ourselves.

Our Lenten task is to look to our inner motivations before we get preoccupied with how we are coming across to others. We like to present a tidy appearance to the world, but we all have closets and Jesus reminds us to clear them of selfish motives and shallow goals. Being able to say, “I am who I appear to be,” is a good goal for all Christians.

We do not need to make a big show of helping someone in need. Doing it to impress others is not proper giving at all. It is just another way of getting something for ourselves, and Jesus warns us against this trap. Many Christians have sought to only serve God but have inadvertently become famous for their selflessness, like St. Teresa of Kolkata.

Jesus goes on to contrast “treasures on earth” with “treasures in heaven.” Our earthly possessions are temporary and prone to decay and loss, while gathering treasures in heaven refers to conducting oneself in anticipation of God’s rewards and living in such a way as to build up incorruptible stores. ​

Reflection Questions

In our self-examination during the Lenten season, how do we present ourselves to the outside world? Who are we on the inside, as a person? How do we reconcile these two different realities, our outer and inner selves?