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Wednesday, February 25, 1998

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Ash Wednesday

Joel 2:12-18
2 Corinthians 5:20—6:2
Psalm 51
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

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lent frees

"Even now, says the Lord, return to Me with your whole heart, with fasting..." —Joel 2:12

In Lent, we imitate Jesus when He was led by the Spirit into the desert. Here He fasted for forty days and overcame the temptations of the evil one (Mt 4:1ff). Through fasting, Jesus experienced great freedom (Is 58:6). Thus, He emerged from the desert in the power of the Spirit (Lk 4:14) to proclaim the good news of freedom to captives and release to prisoners (Lk 4:18). After His forty-day fast, Jesus announced the ultimate freedom of an everlasting Jubilee Year (Lk 4:19; Lv 25:8ff).

In Lent, we should imitate both Jesus' fasting and His freedom. We must repent of being a cowardly, cowering church, chained and leashed by the world. This Lent, by God's grace, let's shatter "the gates of brass and burst the bars of iron" and break out of self-made, sin-made prisons (Ps 107:16). May we be unleashed and unbridled, moving about at large (Ps 31:9), and set free in the open (Ps 18:20; 2 Sm 22:20).

Lent should lead to the ultimate freedom of the resurrection. If we let the risen Lord set us free, we are really free (Jn 8:36). Lent frees.

Prayer:  Father, may the ashen cross on my forehead indicate freedom from the fear of death and freedom for evangelization.

Promise:  "Now is the acceptable time! Now is the day of salvation!" —2 Cor 6:2

Praise:  During his lunch hour, Peter leads a Bible study for his coworkers.

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, July 26, 1997

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 29, 1997