Today's Reading: St. Matthew 6:1-16, 16-21
“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces to appear to men to be fasting. Amen, amen, I say to you, they receive their reward.” (St. Matthew 6:16)
Glory be to Jesus! In the name of Jesus. Amen. Whose glory are you seeking? Is your religion and faith all about you or it all about Jesus?
You’d sure like to think it’s about Jesus, wouldn’t you? That’s the right answer after all. But today is Ash Wednesday. It’s time to set aside pretenses and acts, to stop trying to convince the Lord and those around you that you are somehow better than you actually are. It’s sackcloth and ashes day!
Time to be honest with God —truly and brutally honest. You say every Sunday that you are a poor, miserable, sinner, but most days you think that you’re really a pretty good person. All things considered, you aren’t thatbad —not as bad as some people. At least you are trying. Shouldn’t that count for something?
No, it doesn’t. Not before God. God is holy. With God, you are either perfect like your heavenly Father is perfect, or you are out. If you’re perfect, you’re in. If you aren’t, you go straight to hell. That’s harsh, but true.
That’s why Lent isn’t about your sacrifice, what you give up, or how much ashes or repentance you have. It’s about Jesus. Lent is about Jesus’ holy life lived for your sinful life and His suffering and death, making the payment for your sins and the sins of the whole world.
Repent of your sins. Turn from them. Sackcloth-and-ashes turn. Then believe all the more that because of Jesus’ sacrifice for you, you are forgiven.
That’s why we are in Lent! The glory of God is Jesus —His sacrifice for you. Glory be to Jesus! In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
“Almighty and everlasting God, You despise nothing You have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent. Create in us new and contrite hearts that lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness we may receive from You full pardon and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.” (Collect for Ash Wednesday)
Questions or comments regarding the Reflections may be sent to the Rev. Mark Buetow, Reflections Editor, email@example.com.