Homily for Ash Wednesday, Year A

Lent: A Season of God’s Grace and Favor

Readings: 1stJoel 2:12-18; Ps 50; 2nd2 Cor 5:20-6, 2: Gos: Mt 6:1-6. 16-18

This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. He was the chancellor of the Diocese of Fajardo Humacao, Puerto Rico. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at: canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, or canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.


Today is Ash Wednesday, so we begin the season of Lent and our journey with Christ in a unique way. This journey will last for about six weeks. So, today the church reminds us that the season of Lent presents us with a golden opportunity to re-live the Paschal Mystery of our Lord Jesus Christ. The season of Lent exposes us to a new dimension of our Christian life and journey. It also equips us for the glory of Easter. This is why the Holy Father, Pope Francis, tells us that: “Lent is a time of renewal for the whole Church, for each community and every believer. Above all, it is a “time of grace…A merciful heart does not mean a weak heart. Anyone who wishes to be merciful must have a strong and steadfast heart” (Message for Lent, 2015).

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Our first reading from the prophet Joel is a call to repentance through fasting and abstinence. These are two essential characteristics and aspects of Lent. In this reading, the prophet informs us that God is waiting for us to return to him: “Come back to me with all your heart, fasting, weeping and mourning…turn to the Lord your God again for he is all tenderness and compassion.” He will welcome us back as a loving father if we return to him. However, we must show sincere repentance for all the times we have offended Him. Today, as ever before, God extends an invitation to us and expects us to respond positively. In our second reading, Paul encourages us to reconcile with God.

Most importantly, he reminds us that the season of Lent is a special season of God’s Grace and favor. He says: “As his fellow workers, we beg you again not to neglect the grace of God. Now is the favorable time. This is the day of salvation.” How, then, can we reconcile with God this season? It is by reconciling with our neighbors, brothers, sisters, parents, and children. As Pope Francis teaches us, it is by showing concern for others and our world instead of being indifferent. Importantly, it is by reconciling with those we see as our enemies.

This is especially, and all those who have offended us in one way or another. On our part, too, we must be humble enough to ask for forgiveness from those we have offended. This season, therefore, affords us an excellent opportunity to rebuild our relationship with Christ and our neighbors. God is waiting, so we can meet him through the sacrament of confession. Hence, the season of Lent is a season of Grace and Favour.  

The gospel shows us the best ways to observe this season of Lent. First, it reminds us of our Christian duties during this period: prayer, abstinence, and charity. These are the means of edifying and strengthening our spiritual lives. However, to achieve the best result in this period of Lent, Jesus also gives us three essential instructions. So, if we wish to carry out our duties well this Lent, we must bear these instructions in mind throughout this period.  

The first is: “Be careful not to parade your good deeds before men to attract their notice.” The second is: “When you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites…pray to your father who is in that secret place.” The third is: “When you fast, do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do…but when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that no one will know you are fasting except your Father who sees all that is done in secret.” 

This means that since it is our voluntary wish to walk with Christ, therefore we must do it humbly, joyfully, and cheerfully. This is because “if we die with Him, we shall also rise with Him” (2 Tim, 2, 11). Therefore, our Prayer, Abstinence, and Charity during this period must be done so that God alone will take all the glory.

Brothers and sisters, if we do this well, this season will indeed be a season of grace and favor because God will surely hear our prayers and forgive us our sins. So, as we take the ash upon our foreheads this Ash Wednesday, let us ask God for the grace to begin and complete this journey during this period of Lent. Finally, and most importantly, our prayer this season should be: “Have mercy on us, O Lord, for we have sinned.”

Peace be with you!



2 thoughts on “Homily for Ash Wednesday, Year A

    • You have it already.
      Simply “FOLLOW” this blog and you will receive the homily as soon as it is posted.
      Remember to check on some of the beautiful adverts here.
      Peace be with you.
      Canice, CSSp

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