Today as a church, we begin a very intensive spiritual journey of repentance and renewal. A journey back into the heart of God -Lenten season.
12 “Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
13 Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. 14 Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing—grain offerings and drink offerings
for the Lord your God.
15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. 16 Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber.
17 Let the priests, who minister before the Lord, weep between the portico and the altar. Let them say, “Spare your people, Lord. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’
18 Then the Lord was jealous for his land and took pity on his people. Joel 2:12-18 (New International Version – NIV)
We begin this journey by acknowledging that God created us in His image and likeness and it was from the dust of the earth that He created us. The use of ashes on our foreheads becomes for us a sign of repentance (Joel 2:12-18).
We also express our repentance and acknowledge our sinfulness through fasting, prayer and alms-giving as Jesus states in Matthew 6:1-6. Jesus never condemned almsgiving; fasting or prayer, what he talks against in this text is our motives for such actions. If our motive is for everyone to see us do good so as to praise us, then our reward is already received.
Popularity of our actions is no criteria for its acceptance by God. Sometimes people give gifts for the wrong motives and so you the recipient are sometimes even afraid to receive such gifts, because of the fear of the giver demanding something else in return. That shouldn’t be the case but unfortunately sometimes it is.
Today we are called to perform all our actions with pure motives. Remember, fasting, alms giving and prayer are the three traditional virtues that define who we are as Christians. Let us live out these virtues to the full during this season of Lent. May God show us His mercy.
Peace and Joy
Prayer (Journey of Repentance and Renewal)
O God merciful; we repent for all our sins, every thought that was unjust or deceitful. We repent for every deed, word and thought inspired by greed or selfishness. And for every deed and word and thought inspired by pride. Amen