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Endgame of Lent: being closer to Christ

Archbishop Gordon distributes ashes during the Ash Wednesday Mass. Photo: Elmo Griffith.

For the Lenten season, Archbishop Jason Gordon has challenged Catholics to observe and practice the three Hs—Hymns, Homilies and Hospitality by listening to sacred music; reading the Sunday gospels “prayerfully” and reaching out to those in need.

In his Ash Wednesday homily at Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) RC Church, San Fernando, the Archbishop drew reference to Aaron Duncan’s ‘Back to Basics’. He then invited the congregation to return to these very “foundations” of Christianity as a way of bringing their hearts “in inspiration” towards God.

Earlier in his homily, Archbishop Gordon described Ash Wednesday as a “very important” day in a Christian’s life, the Church’s and as a nation. It is, he said, an opportunity to do in a “much deeper way”, practices that ought to be observed every year and every day.

“We just came out of Carnival and that was nice and joyful and everybody having a great time. And that joy of the Carnival jumps off the cliff straight into the depth of Ash Wednesday…. That we contrast this great joy that is earthly pleasure with this depth which is spiritual regeneration,” he said.

The Archbishop explained that this contrast between Carnival and Ash Wednesday is what the Church gives to help faithful enter the “joyful” season of repentance.

He observed that while Christians don’t think of repentance and Lent as joyful, it is a joyful season of repentance “because the endgame of Lent is that we become much, much closer to Jesus Christ”.

The Archbishop continued, “And that’s what repentance is—turning our life towards Jesus. That whatever direction our life may be going, however our life might be heading, that we really examine ourselves and we go toward what Jesus is calling us to.”

Commenting on the First Reading (Joel 2:12–18) Archbishop Gordon said that the passage “really speaks” to Ash Wednesday’s call for public fasting and penance.

“…And it speaks to us because we will put ashes on your forehead and we say ‘Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return’…. Remember that your life here on earth is a fleeting spectacle. It’s very short and we think sometimes as if we have forever and ever…” he said.

On the other hand, Archbishop Gordon said the Gospel Reading (Mt 6:1–6, 16–18) takes us in a very different direction. “This is speaking about personal fasting which is now for the rest of the season of Lent,” he said.

“Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand doing. When you fast don’t have a dreary look. Don’t make everybody ask ‘What happen to you?’. Have a smile on your face. You have to be beaming and radiant and be ready to do everything you suppose to do and have a much better disposition and spirit than usual,” he said.- KJ