Ash Wednesday: Treasures, Fasting, and Increasing God
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of our Lenten journey of fasting, praying, and almsgiving. These acts of penance, are ways in which we can open our hearts to receive God in a more abundant way. In these acts, we experience what God gave up so that we could gain a fulfilling life both in the present day and in eternal life. In today’s gospel, however, we are sternly reminded to practice these acts of penance with humility.
Jesus warns his disciples not to by like the hypocrites. These pretenders of the faith preformed acts of fasting, prayer and alms giving as a way to gain or to exploit something. Their repayment was getting praise and glorification from others in the community—in essence, they were about using their faith to gain great publicity.
The God in Jesus is quite the opposite. Jesus does not charge us a price for our redemption. He becomes impoverished for our sake taking on the form of a human. He knows our sufferings, pain, illnesses, and he now hungers and thirsts like a mortal. Most importantly, our God took on our sins. God in Jesus becomes in debt, in order for us to gain to an life everlasting in a love relationship with God.
We gain from Christ’s greatest loss through his death on the cursed cross. We no longer hunger or thirst for righteousness, and we are no longer slaves to sin and death. Ultimately we have gained a seat, as unworthy as we are, at the heavenly banquet in God’s Kingdom through the death and resurrection of the Son of God.
Jesus, therefore, warns us to stop storing up treasures on earth. It is not simply materialistic wealth, but an emotional wealth that binds us to emotions and attitudes that are against God’s life giving ways. It is important, then, to remember that when we are called to give something up for lent and to fast, we are not just simply giving up a thing we might enjoy. We are also giving up the emotions and attitudes that prevents us from being Christ like. It is both the object and our relationship with that thing we give up that either prevents us or helps us to see how good we really have it, and how rich our lives really are with God.
Thus, we give the world a knowledge of Christ’s free love by decreasing our earthly treasures, our bad attitudes and our own self importance so that God can increase in our world! And in case we forget, that is why the church calls us to humbly pray, fast and preform acts of charity as our Saviour did with us and for us. Amen.