The prologue to St. John’s gospel introduces God’s Son as the Word. This life-giving Word—spoken down through the ages—became flesh and lived in our midst. For all of Christian history, the Word is intimately connected with all of human life. It is the purpose of TWIL (“The Word Is Life”) to bring the gospel to life and to bring life to the gospel. This blog will feature reflections on the Sunday Scriptures from contemporary Catholic writers, words of wisdom for our Spiritual journey from saints and blessed, and thoughtful reflections on masterpieces of sacred art. We at Living with Christ hope that they will help you grow in your spiritual life and deepen your relationship with the Word, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ash Wednesday

Categories: The Word Is Life

“Proclaim a fast, call an assembly; Gather the people,…” (Joel 2:15-16)

This day is significant to the faithful around the world. It marks a time to turn around, to live our lives to the fullest and to be everything that we can be as children of God.

There is beauty in the symbolic action of marking the sign of the cross on our foreheads. It reminds us that we are part of an expanding universe. We came from dust and we will return to dust. This reality humbles us. The dust on our foreheads proclaims our place in all of creation, loved by God and gifted with this life.

It is wonderful that Ash Wednesday lands on Valentine’s Day this year. It gives us the chance to reflect upon our need for mercy, love and our walk toward the newness of life. Ashes and a heart, two very concrete symbols. Ashes leave their mark and can be quite messy. Have you ever noticed that when you use ashes to clean the glass of the fireplace, it leaves it crystal clear? We need to step back, mark ourselves, fast and reflect to see life and love clearly. We ask God to create a clean heart in us. On this Ash Wednesday/Valentine’s Day, what can we do to cleanse our hearts?

As we continue to work on synodality in our faith communities, Lent provides us with the perfect time to journey together and to support each other. How do we bring God’s mercy to others in our faith communities, families and friendships? How do we listen to the needs of others and make sacrifices to ensure that voices are heard? How do we give from the heart so that only God sees?

I would like to embark on 40 days of love, the love of the Trinity. This kind of love hurts sometimes. It puts us out there. It is about sacrifice. These actions of love might include speaking the words “I love you” even when we might not be feeling the love back. It can be lightening someone’s day, sending a letter, showing gratitude, and praying intentionally for those I hold dear and those I don’t even know. My pastor made the joke recently that our ashes may need to appear in the shape of a heart this year. That is not so far-fetched. Even on a day when we fast, it is about love. When we give and when we pray it is always about love. May the ashes on our foreheads this year remind us of a love that is greater than all of creation. As Teilhard de Chardin described it, love is a universal cosmic energy. Yes, we are dust, the dust of God’s creation and a symbol of God’s love.

Jan Bentham

Author: Living with Christ

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