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Homily

ASH WEDNESDAY: THE CALL TO REPENTANCE AND SPIRITUAL EXERCISES IN SECRET
By Augustine Agwulonu
Wed, 10 Feb 2016

ASH WEDNESDAY: THE CALL TO REPENTANCE AND SPIRITUAL EXERCISES IN SECRET

Today, we practically move with Jesus into the wilderness. The Lord was led by the Spirit and he invites and leads us along.

Surely, The Lord did not practice repentance in the wilderness. The reason is because he did not need any conversion. He went there to experience for himself, the harshness of human living and environmental conditions. He went there to experience our struggle with the forces of evil and the attempts of the devil to mislead us.

Jesus went into the wilderness to practice prayer and fasting. He went there to practice spiritual self-restraint. The Lord left the city to practice silence and meditation in the desert. He went there to enjoy God's Presence.

The Gospel reading teaches us to be discrete in practicing our spiritual exercises. They are acts, which express our personal relationship with God. It is not everything that happens in one's relationship that one broadcasts to the whole world. Jesus wants us to keep our fasting, prayer and almsgiving as private as possible. They must firstly be the expressions of our love for him, before they can inspire us to care for our neighbors.

We live in an age of the electronic media and information technology. There is the tendency to share what we do with the world. At a time when religion is being commercialized, it appears okay to broadcast our religious acts and spiritual practices. We bring up the argument that we want to evangelize the people. However, it is better to keep our personal prayer life and spiritual exercises private than to make a show of them. At the end of the day it is God, rather than human beings that we desire to please. And Jesus tells us that God is pleased with the good deeds we perform in secret. He says that those are meritorious in God's sight.

As we begin the Lenten season today, we can be rest assured that God has already heard us. This is the message of St. Paul to us when he said: "In an acceptable time, I heard you." He has helped us on the day of salvation. And yet, now is the acceptable time to call on The Lord. Now is the time of salvation, when The Lord helps us (see 2 Cor 6:2). So, with this confidence, let us enter the cloud of the Lenten season and enjoy God's presence in a special way during this forty days.

 

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