Matthew 6:1-6; 16-18, Ash Wednesday
A confused disciple went to his master and begged for enlightenment. And the master said, “Go and sit in your room, and your room will teach you everything.”
Today we officially begin the Season of Lent. For most of us, Lent is a time TO REMEMBER how Jesus, the Son of God, willfully offered his life for our salvation. It is a time for us TO EXAMINE ourselves in the light of God’s love and how we have responded or not responded to His call to righteousness. Lent is a time FOR INTENSE PRAYER to know more of ourselves and our God, and pray for strength and courage to do what is right and just.
Let’s accept it. We remain a mystery to ourselves in spite of our best efforts to know ourselves. Our self- understanding continues to elude us. Do we really know what we really want? There is a DIVINE RESTLESSNESS that is embedded in our hearts. It disturbs us without ceasing. We are never satisfied and fulfilled in our life – even if you possess all the wealth of this earth. We always want more of anything and everything. And in our failure to fully understand ourselves, we end up endlessly craving for affirmation from others, and craving for more wealth, honor and power of this earth. Somehow, we let our possessions and what people think of us define who we are – which, at the end of the day, we realize is useless and in vain.
In our Gospel today, we see how the Pharisees loves to pray, give alms, and fast in public. They want to be praised and honored. The words of others meant a lot to them. What about us? Are you deeply affected when no one praises you? Do you feel bad when your work is criticized and not appreciated? Unfortunately, some of our decisions are influenced by what others would say, and not on what is right, honorable and just. This is very frustrating and non-liberating. Slowly, along the way, we have lost our identity and direction.
Today is ASH WEDNESDAY. Forty days of intense prayer, alms giving and fasting. God wants us to allow him to privately tell us who we are – according to his unique DIVINE PLAN for us. God knows the road we should take. He knows the direction we are longing to know. In all honesty, we know this right direction to take though sad to say, we lack the courage to take that difficult road. In prayer, we get strength to face our cross, enlightenment to transcend our blindness, and deeper understanding of our ourselves and others.
Today, let’s not just fast and abstain from our skin-deep cravings – favorite food, meat, cigarettes and wine. Be honest with yourself and KNOW YOUR HEART’S DEEPEST DESIRE that would bring real happiness to you and your family. Doing God’s will may hurt you. You may lose yourself, but you will find your direction and happiness. And there’s no other way to happiness but to carry our cross and follow Jesus. This is basically what the forty days of lenten reflection is aiming at – to prepare ourselves to embrace our daily cross and find our own resurrection.
Lent is basically CONTEMPLATION ON JESUS’ OWN FREE WILL TO EMBRACE HIS OWN CROSS AND DIE FOR OUR OWN SAKE. If you want to live, you need to die for others. To give yourself to others – and to God, this is the best alms that heaven knows. This is the best sacrifice we can do to prove to Jesus how much we love him and others.
For the next forty days of lent, enter your inner private room and commune with Jesus. And you will find all the answers you are seeking in life.