Bearing the Mark of Jesus

ash-w

So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

— 2 Corinthians 5:20-21

I remember one year when Ash Wednesday and a presidential debate fell on the same day. Knowing there were a few Catholics involved, I waited to see if any would appear with ashes on their forehead on national television. Alas, none of them did. And of course, there was no mention of it being Ash Wednesday.

It is not a holy day of obligation so maybe no one went to Mass that day. Or maybe they did and after reading Jesus’ admonishment of the hypocrites showing off their fasting, prayers, and almsgiving they decided to wash their foreheads. I certainly would never question a person’s faith by whether or not they still had ashes on their head.

However, we do allow the words of Jesus to serve as an excuse to play down our faith. I don’t think that ever was His intention. Bearing witness and showing off are too different things. I personally love to see all the area high school kids at Mass on Ash Wednesday before school. And I know first hand that most of them wear those ashes all day long and are asked several times what that smudge on their head is all about. Believe me, when you are 16 years old that is not showing off. That’s courage.

Ash Wednesday is a perfect day to bring God into the everyday places and moments of life. Whether you happen to be on television or in a grocery store, those ashes say more that any amount of words. If you can get to Mass early, they will be there all day. So, you say evangelization is difficult and not for you? On Ash Wednesday the Church makes it easy for you.

  • reflection taken from the book, Everyday Stewardship: Reflections for the Journey, Tracy Earl Welliver, Liturgical Publications, 2015.

Making a Difference

A reflection by Teresa Keogh, friend and contributor to the Main Thing Blog

Last week I was working in Bangkok and was blessed by being able to add on 3 days holiday. I went to Kanchunabari – the site of the Bridge over the River Kwai.

bridge

It was incredibly moving to walk across the bridge and see the Burma railway; perhaps it was the heat and humidity that made me really appreciate how the prisoners of war had suffered so terribly. When I was reflecting on the experience I was struck by how easily we can misuse the gifts that God has given to us. How do I use my God-given gifts to make a positive difference in the world?

war-sign

I was also struck by this sign; it also reminded me of all those who fought for the common good and were killed in the process. They gave their lives so that ours might be better. Today I pray for all who have lost loved ones in war. I also pray that I use the gifts God has given me to make a difference, however small that may be.