Ashes to Ashes~The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI
Reading 1: Jl 2:12-18
Responsorial Psalm:’51:3-4, 5-6ab, 12-13, 14 and 17
Reading II:’2 Cor 5:20—6:2
Verse Before the Gospel: See Ps 95:8
Gospel:’Mt 6:1-6, 16-18
Liturgical Colour: Violet.
Today, we come to Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Lenten season.
On Ash Wednesday, I am always reminded of the words used at the committal
part of the Funeral service which goes, “Therefore we commit his/her
body to the ground, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust”
A type of form of those words were spoken for the very first time in the
garden of Eden, after Adam and Eve had eaten of the tree of the
knowledge of good and evil. God said to them – “Dust thou art,
and to dust thou shall return.”
Dust to dust, ashes to ashes. A very stark reminder of from where we
Came and to where we shall eventually
return. We are all without God in our lives, by our human nature, and by our deeds – merely a walking, talking,
thinking, doing package of dust and ashes.
There is not much value in dust and ashes. Gardeners would know that fact but
they can be used to help grow plants – but basically for other than this, they are
And without the love, Grace, and Mercy of God, we likewise are worthless.
So then why do we bother today in the wearing of ashes upon our foreheads? Why
do we gather and remember exactly what we are?
Well – the answer is that while we gather to remember who we are,
we also gather to remember who God is – and all that God Our Father and creator has done for
us in and through Our Lord Jesus.
God has given us a way out of our plight of “ashes to ashes, dust
to dust”. The ONLY way- That is the way of the Cross. The death of Jesus was
God’s way of placing a sign of infinite value upon each of us and without this,
we would all otherwise have been worthless. Today it is for each of us to know and
to realise that God has chosen to give us a a totally different life than that
which leads to the dust heap and the ash pit.
And all that God asks of us in return is that we accept his love, Grace and mercy,
that we remember that we are indeed all sinners, and that we truly repent and believe in his
Son, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
And he asks us too that we try to practice a piety that is based
on his love – instead of being motivated by thoughts of human
praise or reward, that we try to show a righteousness that is
based on His goodness – instead of being motivated by thoughts
of demonstrating our human virtue.
God has committed himself to each and every single one of us – and has given to us a sign of that commitment – the cross. Today, we come to take upon ourselves
that sign – we come to recommit ourselves to God and the way that
his Son has shown us.
We come to remember the words of the committal service, the words
that do not stop with “earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to
dust”, but continue on to say “trusting in God’s great mercy by
which we have been born anew to a living hope through the
resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
These are words that we need to always remember – for we are born anew to a
living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ – a hope
that comes to us all because of the mercy and the love of God for his
people; a hope that comes because God has acted in and through
Jesus to open the way to new life to all who repent and believe
in the good news that he proclaimed.
Thanks be to God who gives us this victory.
Let us pray:
Blessed are You O Lord
who gives us life and all things.
Lead us into repentance and
renew our lives with your grace.
May the crosses of ashes that mark our
foreheads be a reminder that we belong to your Son.
May our worship and prayer be sustained
throughout these days of Lent.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
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