Ash Wednesday – 2016

Joel 2:12-18; 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Womb to tomb is the pattern of all human life. You, and I with you, are on individual and collective pilgrimages, processions, journeys. Here we are this Ash Wednesday walking in procession to God’s altar to receive ashes. In this same hour we will be in a procession to receive Holy Communion, our food, our living Bread, the Bread of Life to nourish us and strengthen us for our individual journeys though life.

Yesterday is gone; we can’t go back into it. Tomorrow lies ahead; we cannot stop it from coming. Today we’re on the move. But where are we going? Where are you going? What direction are you taking as you live out your days here on earth? Are you journeying toward God or apart from God?

You can’t escape it. You are on a spiritual journey. Even if you don’t realize it you are, in fact, on a spiritual journey.

You came into being because of our heavenly Father’s love. You are, in Christ our Blessed Savior, destined to return back home to our heavenly Father, your Father and my Father. The Wise Men who journeyed on a pilgrimage to the newborn baby in His Christmas crib gave us light and insight about that, their journey leading us to see reality in that light. All of human life has a destiny. Wise men and women of today realize that.

Now we begin our pilgrimage to Easter. That’s what Lent is all about. The wonderful thing about God’s mercy is that our past sins are, by God’s love, obliterated. They no longer exist. All we can do now is look forward to tomorrow. We still have time to love God, to do what He wants us to do. Ahead of us we have people to love, prayers we can yet pray, and tasks we can do to accomplish God’s purposes in giving us the lives He gave us when we were born. We are still on our journeys, our pilgrimages to make. What is past we must leave behind. What remains is for us to look ahead and see the opportunities God has set before us. Lent is forward looking not backward looking. Lent leads us to Easter and the new life given us by the Risen Christ.

Easter awaits us, Easter with its new life, fresh starts, new beginnings in God’s new creation, His re-creation of our lives in the resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Remember, thou are dust and unto dust thou shalt return. Remember also that in Easter’s new birth a better life lies ahead of you. The phrase “womb to tomb” is incomplete. For the truth is that on the day we die we are born again into eternal life, hopefully eternal life in the heart of God where our existence first began.

About Charles Irvin

Fr. Charlie was ordained a priest June 3, 1967 and has served as pastor of St. Mary Student Chapel in Ann Arbor, founded Holy Spirit parish in Hamburg, MI, served as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish in Ann Arbor and was pastor of St. Mary parish in Manchester, MI when he entered Senior Priest status in 2001. In 1999 he was appointed Founding Editor of FAITH Magazine which has grown into Faith Catholic Publishing located in Lansing, MI. He is now very active in his “retirement.”