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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

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Ash Wednesday

Joel 2:12-18
2 Corinthians 5:20—6:2
Psalm 51:3-6, 12-14, 17
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

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now or never?

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

As we begin this Lent, God's word for today is "now." "Now is the acceptable time! Now is the day of salvation!" (2 Cor 6:2) The Lord wants us to complete through repentance and healing the unfinished business of the past and to live in the present, now. He also wants us to quit putting off important decisions to a future time. Let's live for God now.

As we begin this Lent, God's word for us is also "even now" (Jl 2:12). What seems hopeless to you? Where is the destruction so great and the time so late? Jesus promises: "Even now," your marriage can be restored. "Even now," you can recover your health. "Even now," our country can be freed from the curse of shedding the innocent blood of aborted babies. "Even now," our lukewarm and sinful loved ones can be renewed. "Even now," Jesus can free us from years of compulsive behavior. "Even now," we can repent of the sins we have always rationalized. "Even now," we can accept God's grace to forgive.

The ashen crosses on our foreheads are not marks of passivity or despair, but signs of hope. We believe that "now" is "new" and that "even now" there is hope. Lent means "springtime." Repentance evokes rejoicing (Lk 15:7, 10, 32). Fasting leads to freedom (Is 58:6). The cross is the tree of life. Therefore, "now" and "even now," let us return to the Lord with all our hearts (Jl 2:12).

Prayer:  Father, I commit to empty myself by fasting for forty days. Fill me with hope.

Promise:  "No one can see you are fasting but your Father Who is hidden; and your Father Who sees what is hidden will repay you." —Mt 6:18

Praise:  Last year during Lent, Danielle returned to the Church after an absence of many years. She made a full Confession on Holy Saturday, and celebrated Easter by receiving Jesus in the Eucharist.

Rescript:  †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July27, 2010

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