For me, Ash Wednesday has always been one of those days that was the deadline for picking something to give up for Lent. I always found myself scavenging around aimlessly and I miss the point of what Ash Wednesday is about because my mind and heart aren’t lined up.
Ash Wednesday is not a deadline for what to give up for Lent, a mandatory day to fast, or even about how well your ashes came out on your forehead, and it’s not about feeling self-conscious about your non Catholic-Christian friends finding out that you practice your faith. Ash Wednesday is a reminder that we are but dust and dust we shall return. We are created out of love and to live our lives with humility. Being reminded that we are dust, really demonstrates the humility aspect of the Christian faith. But, how does it show love? It seems a bit depressing to know that we are dust. But hey, God Our Father didn’t have to create us and Jesus didn’t have to die on the cross, but they did, and they did out of love for us.
Being marked with ashes on our foreheads should be flaunted and proclaimed that we are nothing. Nothing without Jesus. It is Jesus who gives us purpose and those ashes remind us that we are created out of love and created to live our lives with humility. Ash Wednesday marks the 40 days of remembering. 40 days of humbly following Jesus into the desert. So today, when you get those ashes on your forehead, don’t be afraid of how you look, wear those ashes with humility and belief, that you are loved beyond measure. Let’s go into the desert together journeying with Jesus and never letting a moment go by without knowing that we are created out of love.
A reflection on Ash Wednesday by Casey Akset (YMO, Newman College, Port Macquarie).