On Ash Wednesday we begin our journey to the great feast of Easter.
Wearing ashes symbolises our desire for conversion, to turn again towards God. Repentance (conversion) is not so much about being sorry for individual sins. It is about changing the direction of our hearts – away from all that limits God’s love and action in us. Conversion is about opening ourselves to a fresh experience of God’s healing love which makes us whole and restores us to our rightful place as beloved daughters and sons in the Kingdom of God. It’s about moving back into right relationship with God and neighbour.
Through the Prophet Joel in today’s first reading, God invites us to turn back to him. Our hearts are broken when we realise God’s immense love for us and the fact that ‘he is all tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in graciousness and ready to relent’.
St Paul reminds us that we are ‘ambassadors for Christ’ drawing one another into reconciliation with God, just as Jesus did, so that we might become the ‘goodness of God’ in the world.
Matthew’s Gospel reading provides good advice about doing good deeds, fasting and prayer. We do these with sincerity, not to win other people’s approval. We are striving for integrity between our inner and outer selves on our journey into God’s heart.