Just as a car needs to be taken for maintenance, or businesses close for stocktaking, so too people must take a break to reflect spiritually on their relationship with God.
Fr Clifford Mainooh CSSp expressed these sentiments as he celebrated the noon Ash Wednesday Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
Fr Mainooh said that Lent is recognition that “as human beings we have imperfections.” As such, the Lenten season is when “we are called to stick a pin, go into retreat, and with God’s grace, amend our ways before we go back to active public ministry.”
He said pausing was necessary in all aspects in life. Today’s cars, after 5000 km, need to be taken in for servicing. And in the area of health and medicine, people are encouraged to pause and detox once a year, while businesses pause to take stock, “to know whether the business is making a profit or loss.” So too “in the spiritual realm” Jesus withdrew for 40 days before He began active ministry.
Referencing the Second Reading (2 Cor 5:20–6:2), Fr Mainooh said we are all ambassadors for Christ, and “we can only go out into the world as ambassadors if we truly know Him.” Lent is therefore an occasion “to come to know who Christ is for us once again… We cannot give what we do not have.
We must remind ourselves who Christ is as we share in His ministry.”
In the First Reading (Joel 2:12–18), Fr Mainooh said we are called to empty ourselves “so that He can fill us. A cup with water cannot be filled with coffee.” It has to be emptied first, he remarked, so too we have to empty ourselves to fill ourselves with Christ.
He told the congregation that while the faithful can do prayer, fasting and almsgiving every day, “we are called to do it even more intensely during Lent.”
We can fast from food, and “abstain from anything that hinders us from being true ambassadors.”
Almsgiving, he added, is also important because “everything we have is a gift, given to us by God.” He has given to us not to keep, but to share with the less privileged, Fr Mainooh ended.
After the homily, Fr Mainooh blessed and distributed ashes using Q-tips. —RS