Religious language and customs lose their meaning when we don’t think about them. The ashes used today are from palm branches from last year’s Palm Sunday celebration. Once carried to shouts of glory, they’re reminders now of death. “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
The biblical word “repent” is translated “turn”–calling us to turn away from sin and turn to God. It’s a certain kind of turning we’re called to make. Not a casual turning from curiosity, quickly returning to what really matters–ourselves.
We’re called to turn to God, our creator and redeemer, keeping our eyes fixed on the One who is the source of our life. We turn to God in humble appreciation to receive his promise of forgiveness and love.
“Someone wise must not glory in his wisdom, someone strong must not glory in his strength, someone rich must not glory in his riches.”
We come to God with nothing, so we might be filled.
Turning from sin, from anger, from resentment, we come to a gentle, forgiving God who blesses us with gifts this holy season, through the intercession of Jesus, his Son. We know we have turned if we are gentle and forgiving of one another.
We are blessed with the sign of his cross today.