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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

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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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re-lent, re-turn and repent

"...relenting in punishment. Perhaps He will again relent and leave behind Him a blessing." —Joel 2:13-14

Joel proclaims in today's first Ash Wednesday reading that God will relent on the punishment we have earned by the wages of our sins (Rm 6:23), if we return to Him with our whole heart (Jl 2:12). As Lent begins, the Church urges us to implore God to relent and have mercy on us (Ps 51:3), forgive our sins, and bring us back to Him.

God also implores us to "re-lent," that is, to enter year after year into the spirit of Lent with our whole heart. He tells us through the prophet Joel to "re-turn" to Him and "quit" the ways of the world, even those which might be good (Jl 2:16), for His sake. Through the Church, He calls us to "turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel." We don't just turn away from worldly things; we turn to the Lord God.

Re-Lenting and re-turning must lead to repenting. During Lent, focus on the Sacrament of Reconciliation. With true sorrow, repent of your sins, confess them to the Lord, and let Him take away the guilt of your sin (see Ps 32:5). Repent of turning to the lifestyle of the world and the preoccupations of the flesh. Return to Him (Jl 2:13). Abandon yourself completely into this season of returning, repenting, and relenting. The Lord says: "Return to Me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God" (Jl 2:12-13).

This year, don't simply go through the exercises and motions of Lent. Re-lent, repent, and re-turn to the Lord.

Prayer:  Jesus, reconcile me to Your Father (2 Cor 5:20).

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

Praise:  During Lent, Bill, a vice-president in a large corporation, skips his daily lunch hour to go to noon Mass.

Reference:  (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 8, 2013

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