Fr. J.B.’s Homily for Ash Wednesday – 1st March 2017
Joel 2:12-18 | 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2 | Matthew 6:1-6 & 16-18
Dear Friends, as we begin this period of Lent. Let’s remember that it is a period of preparation for the most important mystery on which our Church is founded i.e.: The Suffering Death and Resurrection of our LORD Jesus. Imagine if Jesus had been born (Christmas) and had died and not resurrected, we as the Church would not have existed. This resurrection happens on Easter. And because it is so important in the Life of the Church we are given 40 days to prepare for it. Forty (40) is the symbol of preparation. When the Israelites were being prepared for the Promised Land they got prepared for 40years. When Jesus was preparing for His public ministry He went to the desert to prepare for 40 days. Similarly is the story of Noah and others: hence the 40 days of Lent.
During this preparation we are given weapons of self-restraint in order to weaken the body thus strengthening our souls, i.e.; Prayer, Fasting and Alms giving.
- Prayer; During Lent we should endeavour to pray more than usual. To spare some time besides Mass, to go and be with the LORD in Eucharistic Adoration or get a spiritual book which will help you keep focused on God. This prayer should be personal not showbiz.
- Fasting; Fasting as a prayer entails lots of things. For it to impart the necessary Grace attached to it, one should first receive penance for their sins. Forgive others then if possible receive Holy Communion on that day: Be spiritually clean. And we are advised to fast from things with an aim of making a difference not only in our lives but also in other people’s lives. It’s not merely food. It can be bad habits, vices, addictions, etc. And what you fast should not be saved if it saves some money, it can be given out to help others in need.
- Alms-giving; from what we have sacrificed and fasted we should give back to the needy. God resides in the poor. A hand that gives receives. If you want to meet Him give to the poor. Treat others well and you will be blessed.
These three pillars of Lent move hand in hand: together. If you fast and treat others poorly, you gossip, and you are not generous, all your fasting is in vain. And do not fast for the sake of it. Always accompany it with a prayer; be it giving Alms, don’t simply do it. It should be a prayer.
It is also advisable to begin Lent after receiving a thorough confession of your sins.
May God help us as we begin this important season in the Life of the Church that as we make sacrifices and pray during this period which involves His death, we may eventually rise with Him from dust to stars. May it be a moment for us to prepare for the eventual resurrection of our dead situations – a moment to prepare for the coming blessing of God in our Lives and a moment of Hope that if we die with Him we may resurrect with Him.
God bless you all and I wish you a fruitful Lenten Season.
Rev. Fr. John Bosco Ssembatya
Youth/ Communications Chaplain
Christ the King Parish, Kampala