It is 14th February 2018. We celebrate the Ash Wednesday. We enter into Lent, the most special time for our spiritual welfare leading us to have a personal conversion through this penitential time of the Church. Everyone is invited by the mother Church to engage in repentance through fasting, prayer and almsgiving. It is not only a time to give up our evil inclinations but rather to give in to the Lord through our self-surrender. It is all about change within oneself. The readings are from Joel 2:12-18; the second reading is from 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2; and the Gospel from Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18. It is indeed very hard to change the other person just because no one wants to be told. Individualism and relativism is sharply rising every turn of the church and in the life of an individual. It is time to focus on our personal relationship with God. We are instructed in the Cannon Law Nos. 1249,1250.1251, that “The divine law binds all the Christian faithful to do penance each in his or her own way. The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent. Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance. In the first reading, Joel invites us to return to the Lord because our “God is full of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in mercy and ready to forgive.”. “Now, now – it is the Lord who speaks – come back to me with all your heart, fasting, weeping, mourning.” (Joel 2:12-14). The responsorial Psalm prays: “Have mercy on us, O Lord, for we have sinned.” (Ps.50:3). St. Pauls encourages us to consider the most favourable time of the Lord. “At the favourable time, I have listened to you; on the day of salvation I came to your help. Well, now is the favourable time; this is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor.6:2). The Gospel reiterates and insists on our personal penance. Our personal charity, prayer and fasting must not be trumpeted. All we do to please the Lord not people. God has no time for those who wish a public show of their fasting and penance. We are not fasting, praying and giving alms to convert the world but rather for ourselves for the times that we have wilfully departed from God and sinned. As we are going to receive the Ash today, everyone must hear clearly: “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” And “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” May we return to the Lord through our sincere and humble hearts. May you have a good day God bless you.

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