Your God is too Boring I: Ash Wednesday- It's Not All About You
Feb 9, 2016
During Lent, we will be reading and discussing Jon Leonetti’s Your God is too Boring. The blog post that follows is part of our reflection. Feel free to read, share, comment on, and discuss all that is reflected on here. While you don’t necessarily need to read the book in order to participate in our online discussion, we really recommend that you do, because, well, it’s a good book. Books and the reflection guide are three dollars and can be picked up at the back of church.
Repent and be faithful to the Gospel.
Remember, you are dust, and to dust you will return.
Today, each of us will hear one of these admonitions as we receive the cross of ashes on our foreheads and begin our Lenten journey to the Cross and ultimately the Empty Tomb on Easter Sunday.
What do these phrases mean, and why are they so important for disciples of Jesus? The answer to this question could be summed up by a phrase used by Jon in the first chapter- It’s not all about you.
We live in a culture that constantly calls us to focus on ourselves. Social media allows us constant access to the personal lives of others, and invites us to share parts of life that 20 years ago would have been left private. We are urged to always have the next best device, as if that I Phone 5 we got last year is all of a sudden useless because 6 arrived on the shelves. Our phones help us keep our schedules, but they are just as likely to insulate us from having real contact with the world beyond our little screens. We are persistently being called to focus on ourselves and what makes us happy in the moment.
Yet, if we are honest, we know that God is calling us to so much more. As Jon writes in Chapter 1, the best definition of love is “to will the good of the other for his own sake, and to seek to be united with him to his good.” This is the kind of love God has for us, and the kind of love God calls us to have for others in response. The only way to really truly love, whether it be God, our spouse, brother, sister, neighbor, is to stop focusing on ourselves. It’s not all about you!
The three disciplines of Lent (prayer, fasting and almsgiving) could be seen as tools to strip away the veneer of selfishness we carry, so that we can better respond to God’s love by loving others. It’s a season to find more time for personal prayer, possibly going to daily Mass, acknowledging that we can’t be a disciple without being centered in God. All of the fasting we do during the Lenten season- from food on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, from meat on Ash Wednesday and Fridays, whether we give up chocolate or gossiping, all of it serves to remind us that we are called to something more than just our immediate desires. Almsgiving, whether it be through the Rice Bowl (which you can find at the back of Church) or some other charity, whether we give money or time to serve others in need-all of it makes us stop and remember that to follow Jesus means to see Christ in those in need. It’s not all about you!
The ashes we receive on our forehead today are made from palms left over from Palm Sunday. You remember Palm Sunday, don’t you…that day when we praise Jesus- “HOSANNA IN THE HIGHEST” in one breath, and condemn Him- “CRUCIFY HIM” in the next? Sin makes us fickle and selfish, and with the cross of those ashes on our forehead we acknowledge today that we are nothing without Jesus. We pledge to strip away our selfish, sinful selves and become people of light, acknowledging once and for all-it’s not all about me.