Sermon for Ash Wednesday
Our Lord Jesus-Christ opens the doors of the spiritual life for us: “Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth: where the rust, and moth consume, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven: where neither the rust nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through, nor steal.”
We have a natural instinct which pushes us to protect and conserve our goods. If someone steals something from you, you may become angry instantly, and this reaction is legitimate. The purpose of the passions is precisely the protection and the conservation of persons and species. Anger can be useful to help us overcome a difficulty. In our example, if your weekly salary, which allows you to live decently has been stolen, your anger will help you not to give up and to begin the process for potential compensation or reparation.
But the fact is, dear Brethren, that most of the time, our anger is disproportionate. Does someone steal from you something that you don’t really need in order to live, and right away you start to gripe and grumble, insulting your thief and perhaps using profanity and even blaspheming the Holy name of God. But for what purpose? Because someone stole a hundred dollars from you while you have a house with television in almost every room, two cars and many other goods that are not necessities for life? Indeed, you have been a victim of an injustice and you certainly have the right to make a claim for your goods, but don’t you think that your reaction is too extreme, for not saying sinful?
The fact is that we like to lay up to ourselves an earthly treasure. And we worry too much over this so-called treasure. Where our treasure is, there our heart is also.
"Haec dicit Dominus - Now therefore saith the Lord: Be converted to me with all your heart." Jesus Christ calls us. Be converted to me with all your heart! But where is our heart? It is where our treasure is. And where is our treasure?
Dear Brethren, we have to understand that we cannot convert to the Lord as long as we remain attached to earthly treasures. Remember that we are traveling. We will not stay on earth for eternity. We cannot allow ourselves to take charge of a heavy and burdensome load that we will leave one day anyway. Jesus tells us:
“Don’t be too attached to the things which are not necessary. I am the Only necessary because I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. All the creatures I gave you are certainly for your use, but only as means in order to serve Me. If you make these creatures your treasure, you will lose your life. If you choose me as your treasure, you will have life everlasting. So, be converted to me with all your heart
- How do we have to convert to Thee, O Lord?
- Now, as I told my prophet, in fasting, and in weeping, and in mourning.”
Dear, Brethren, this is now the time to return to our God as He wants us to do. And He wants us to fast and to weep. It is now the time to start again our Holy exercises of Lent, because they are a way to God. It is a time of purification and of renouncement; a time to practice virtues of penance, of obedience and of temperance; a time to lay up a treasure in Heaven that we will keep for all eternity.
Jesus wants to open the doors of the spiritual life, so that we can find an imperishable treasure. If we let Him open them, Lent will be a way of conversion or re-conversion; it will be the return of the prodigal son to the home of His Father. Finally, beyond the austerity and the harshness of our penances, it will a time of joy – the peaceful and plenary joy given by the presence of God in a soul.
May Our Lady help us to find this joy through our exercises of Lent. May she help us to choose Her Son for a treasure.