Rend Your Hearts

A Homily for Ash Wednesday

Texts: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; St. Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21


Grace and Peace to you from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus our Lord, who accompanies us through the Lenten wilderness. Amen.

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It was well after midnight my sophomore year of college when I stumbled back into my apartment after hours in the library working on an assignment I was nearly certain I would fail. Exhausted, frustrated, and angry, I dropped my books and my pack, grabbed my shirt and simply pulled, sending buttons and thread flying everywhere. Standing in the doorway, a few shreds of fabric in my hand, I could only muster a sigh. I felt a little bit better, but only for a moment. I quickly collapsed into bed for a few fitful hours’ sleep, still in my undershirt, jeans, and shoes. The next morning, I woke up barely rested, and none the closer to finishing my research paper. Were this a movie, rending my clothes in such a dramatic way would have inevitably led to a breakthrough; as it was, I got a brief moment of catharsis before barely eking out a C+ on the project and in the class and quietly dropping the major.

As overly dramatic as that night may have been, the ritual imagery of Ash Wednesday puts it to shame. Continue reading “Rend Your Hearts”

You Are Dust

A Homily for Ash Wednesday

Texts: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17, Psalm 51, St. Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and Christ Jesus our Lord, who calls us to repentance. Amen.

Rarely is the tension of our faith on such stark display as it is today. We sit here, brows smeared with ash, and ponder the words of Christ:

Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them….whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others….

On the face of it, there’s a sharp contrast between our Lord’s teaching and our actions. Continue reading “You Are Dust”