How do you give alms? Is it by putting on a show, maybe hoping you get something in return? Maybe you do good deeds and slip away before anyone can even notice that you were there. As we prepare for this time of Lent through giving of ashes, we think of the common phrase "ashes to ashes, dust to dust". It is from dust that we originate from and will return some day when God calls us home. What will the ashes you leave behind represent? What type of person do you want to be remembered as in this world? Think about what those ashes on your forehead represent in your life right now. God calls each of us into His Kingdom, making Himself known to us, and in turn, making His people known within the world through the sign of the Cross, marked in ashes. Are you embracing that mark of ashes today?
Today's Gospel states:'"Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. "Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. "And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. "And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you' (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18).
Today's reading talks about giving alms quiet, not hoping to catch everyone's attention as you do. The same can be said with wearing your ashes proudly on ash Wednesday. When you wear your ashes, and other people react to them, those who don't understand the purpose, it's not the time to smirk proudly, but to openly and joyful spark conversation and bring others to knowing God. If you can, go first thing, so that you have the opportunity to wear them proudly all day. Take some time today to reflect on the importance of your faith in your life, especially as you wear the ashes today.
Today we pray:
Thank You for being a big part of my life, and for giving everything for me. Help me to be proud of my faith, but not to be boastful. Help me be proud in the form of joy, with the eagerness to embrace and share my faith with those around me.
I pray in Your most holy name, Amen.