ash wednesday

Repent and Believe in the Gospel

Repent and Believe in the Gospel

Lent is now underway. Here is the brief homily I preached at the 12.15pm Mass here in the Cathedral on Ash Wednesday last week.

Today, Ash Wednesday, we begin the joyful season of Lent – a time when God comes closer to us than ever. He longs for us to come back home, to repent of our sins and bad habits, to experience His love and to enter into a deeper relationship with Him. This is why the Church, during this season, recommends to us the three great works that Jesus speaks of in today’s Gospel: When you pray … When you fast … When you give alms. Prayer, fasting and charity, the three works of Lent, help us to change and convert, to respond to God’s love and to grow closer to Him.

Just before Christmas, Pope Francis announced that next year, 2025, will be a Holy Year and in preparation he has asked us to keep this year 2024 as a Year of Prayer. He suggests we focus on the Our Father. I remember once in Confession a penitent saying she had not done the penance I gave her the week before. I asked her what it was. ‘Two Our Fathers.’ ‘What’s the problem?’ I asked. She said, every time she began, her mind drifted away, meditating and reflecting on what she was saying. This Lent, for prayer may I suggest rereading the last 100 paragraphs of the Catechism which are dedicated to the Our Father? For self-denial: well, I’m sure you have many ideas of your own. For almsgiving and charity? What about the seven spiritual works of mercy: instructing, consoling, challenging, advising, forgiving, interceding and bearing wrongs?

Now, it is the Lord who speaks: come back to me with all your heart. Let’s begin this Lent with enthusiasm. Let’s join Jesus in the desert on pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Let’s respond generously to the Lord’s invitation by prayer, self-denial and charity. I wish you a Happy Lent. [Image: NCR/Unsplash]