Fr Paul reads from Matthew’s Gospel (6: 1-6, 16-18) in which Jesus warns against parading good deeds before others to attract their notice. Afterwards, he reflects on the significance of Ash Wednesday as we begin our Lenten Journey.
Fr Paul says Ash Wednesday is one of the most important Holy Days in our liturgical calendar. It opens for us our season of Lent, a season of fasting, prayer and alms giving, as is mentioned in the Gospel.
Our season of Lent is always a season of preparation, which is signified by the change to the colour purple. Purple is our ‘get ready’ colour, our colour of preparation. We use it for this season of Lent and for the season of Advent when we prepare ourselves for the birth of Jesus.
Today, our practice of using Ash in our ceremony comes from the Ancient Jewish tradition of penance and fasting. As we have long experienced, there is the practice of wearing ashes on our heads. The ashes symbolise the dust from which God made us.
Fr Paul says, the ashes also symbolise for us grief. In this case, grief that we have sinned and caused division from God. He explains that the ashes we have each year are made from the blessed Palms used in previous Palm Sunday Masses over the years.
Today, we enter into this new season (the green of Ordinary Time is gone) and Fr Paul invites us to spend this time of preparation repairing our relationship with God; trying to come back to God, to acknowledge our sins, and to seek healing and help from Jesus.