Ash Wednesday: Reading Reflections

Joel

Return to the Lord.  God is merciful.

Corinthians

Being servants of God is not easy but we are joyful it it.  Sometimes we have to put up with hardship and our comportamiento in confronting this hardship reveals divinity’s face to us and to the world.  Other times, this shining visage is not only revealed through the hardship that shapes us, but through all manner of positive attributes we affirm and enact in the world.  When we are truthful and we share that truth with genuine respect and love for our fellow human beings, we reveal the face of God newly in the world.  All these challenges we face, as unjust and misguided as they most certainly are or may be, are worth it to us.  Because in this life of losing, in this our journey toward a pure genuineness and the hope of a common promise fulfillment, we have found all.  Even though we walk a road that ends not always “happily ever after” but unhappily many times, we choose to pursue the straight path that leads to an honesty which can and will, one way or another, fully dismantle the false self that imprisons us . And we know that beyond the death of our false selves lies the doorway to eternal life.  No other death—- as terrible, or unjust, or humiliating as it could be—-can rob us of life if we have died the much more difficult death to the false self we drag behind us continually like a corpse. People of God, we now set our faces to that hard, wonderful road.

Matthew

Do things the right way (the right way).  Not so that people can praise you but because your heart desires it.  God rewards the heart that acts purely and knows whether it’s true or not. Even if you don’t.  Fast for the right reasons.  Not because someone told you to but because you want to take on the discipline to help chip away at your false self.  You will follow the rules others set for you about fasting, pledging or whatever such thing to no avail if your heart is not in it for the right reasons.  At the end of the day, you are the final arbiter in the case over your heart.  Either you rend it in the Joel sense and return to the path of purity or you continue misguidedly feeding the superficial self with a cheap and ultimately unsatisfying “rending of garments,” or hypocritical prayer.  God is merciful and will reward your humble heart.  Knowing this and leaving the reward business up to God is where the treasure lies.  Nothing can touch this treasure once you have internalized it.  Shedding the false self is a process in which flakes of failure are left behind on the road as we walk toward Jerusalem and the inevitable death of all untruth.  Where the flakes have fallen, gem-like facets glitter from where our humble heart in both spontaneous virtue and unforeseen hardship, has polished away the rough and raw matter that had hidden it.  Treasure is within and we walk to release it from the prisons we ourselves have constructed to house it.

 

“No amontonen riquezas aquí en la tierra, donde la polilla destruye, y las cosas se echan a perder, y donde los ladrones entran a robar. Mas bien amontonen riquezas en el cielo, donde la polilla no destruye ni las cosas se echan a perder ni los ladrones entran a robar. Pues donde está tu riqueza, allí estará también tu corazón”

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