Lent is a time when we are called to reflect on the Mystery of Redemption; the journey from alienation to reconciliation. This seeming dichotomy is illustrated by the two scripture passages that may be used during the imposition of ashes by the minister on Ash Wednesday..
One option, the more ancient of the two, is, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” The words come from Genesis 3:19 and were spoken by God to Adam before expelling him and Eve from the Garden of Eden.
Or the minister may choose to say, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” This scripture is taken from Mark 1:15. It is part of Jesus’ first statement at the beginning of his public ministry. “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”
They are well chosen passages for they remind us of our alienation from God by our sinfulness and His offer of forgiveness and reconciliation. That, in short, is salvation history which culminates in the Paschal Mystery, the Passion, death and resurrection of Jesus.
The passage from Genesis calls us to reflect on our transgressions. It reminds us of the source of our alienation from God. But, the Markan passage calls us to repentance and faith in Jesus and forgiveness.
During this holy season we are called to journey with Jesus as he sets his face toward Jerusalem and the victory of the Resurrection. I invite each of you to join me on our own journey of prayer, fasting and sacrifice culminating on the greatest of all feasts, the Feast of the Resurrection.
As we take our Lenten journey, I will be blogging about the gifts given by God to strengthen each of us along the way.