Yesterday was the Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of the Lenten Season. The giving of ashes signifies our mourning or contrition for our sins that connect us to the very idea of what penance is all about. However, this observance that was held yesterday should be accompanied with inner conversion, by metanoia or change of heart. Hence, the beginning of the Lenten Season this year invites us with these penetrating words of the Prophet Joel; “Rend your hearts and not your garments” (Joel 2:13)
As I reflected upon the significance of Ash Wednesday for the beginning of the Lenten Season yesterday, my eyes were captivated by the image of the ash. In our day to day living, ash is something ordinary and insignificant. It is the actuality or the final effect of a something that is put into fire or burned. When something turned into ash, it has no use or value anymore, or better we just throw it away or dissolved by the water. On the contrary, I noticed yesterday the significance of its insignificance. When it was placed on my forehead in a form of a cross, it reminds me about my insignificance in front of God. “Remember, you are dust and to dust you will return”-these were the words that the priest said while he places the ashes on my forehead. These words were concrete manifestations that I am nothing in front of God who is rich in kindness and abundant in mercy, yet significant as his child whom He truly loves. Henceforth, there is significance behind our being insignificant.
Just like the ash which is just ordinary and insignificant on our eyes, we are being challenged to have this kind of outlook into our lives in this season of Lent who are being succumbed by pride, prejudices, and self-centeredness by humbling ourselves in front of God, conversion, and repentance. Just like Walter Buns said; “Some people think that having ash on your (our) forehead is ridiculous. But I am (We) neither ashamed nor afraid because the ashes remind me (us) that I will have to pass away someday and reunite with my creator.”