“For I acknowledge my offense, and my sin is before me always.” —Psalm 51:5
Jesus once remarked that if the miracles that He had worked in Bethsaida and Chorazin, two towns in Galilee, had occurred in pagan Tyre and Sidon, the people of those towns would have “reformed in sackcloth and ashes” (Mt 11:21). Repenting by the use of ashes was a custom of the chosen people.
Job repented in ashes (Jb 2:8; 42:6), as did Daniel (Dn 9:3), Tamar (2 Sm 13:19), Judith (Jdt 9:1) and Esther (Est C:13). The prophets spoke of repenting with ashes (Is 58:5; Jer 6:26; Ez 27:30), and faithful Jews did likewise (Jdt 4:11, 15; 1 Mc 3:47; 4:39; Est 4:1, 3). Likewise, the sinful citizens of Nineveh repented in ashes (Jon 3:6).
We begin the season of Lent today with the liturgy of Ash Wednesday. Ashes are placed on our heads as an outward sign of repentance. We die to ourselves and deny our very selves (Lk 9:23) in imitation of Jesus, Who set aside His glory for our good. We must decrease so Jesus can increase in our lives (Jn 3:30).
This discipline and self-denial is for the purpose of repentance, so that everything within us might be for the Lord. May all that is against the Lord be washed away, fall to the ground, and die (Jn 12:24) so we can bear great fruit. Will you die to yourself this Lent so Jesus can live through you? (Gal 2:19-20) “Be earnest about it, therefore. Repent!” (Rv 3:19)
Prayer: Father, may our Lenten fasting be pleasing to You and a healing remedy for our souls.
Promise: “Now is the acceptable time! Now is the day of salvation!” —2 Cor 6:2
Praise: “You turn man back to dust, saying, ‘Return, O children of men’ ” (Ps 90:3). Father, I repent of my sins and I believe in the Gospel.
Reference: (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
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