Jl 2:12-18; Ps 51:3-6,12-14, 17; 2 Cor 5:20 – 6:2; Mt 6:1-6,16-18
WASH ME MORE, CLEANSE ME FROM MY SIN
The Book of Genesis tells us that God created us in his image and likeness. For this reason, we have an innate desire to seek God. However, with the fall of our first parents, sin was introduced into our human nature. The human will, which was meant to seek God, now also has a corrupt desire to seek itself and its gratification. The intellect and memory which were ordered towards the goodness of God are now also influenced by the law of sin. This dichotomy necessitates a constant purification. We have to let go of things that occupy our hearts and minds and draw us away from God.
As we begin the season of Lent, the Church puts before us the three means for attaining this purification – prayer, fasting and alms-giving. The Opening Prayer at the Holy Mass tells us that these are “weapons of self-restraint in our battle against spiritual evils.” But these very means can turn in on us and make us vain. Therefore, we hear the warning: “Let your hearts be broken not your garments torn.” Our Lord himself, in the Gospel, encourages secrecy in these practices without any outward show that would attract attention and thus gain the admiration of people. Such an outward display would be a form of seeking self-glory and will not bring about the desired purity of heart.
Yet, Lent is not about us, and what we can do. Above all, it is an invitation to fix our gaze on the supreme love of God manifested on the cross. Only by uniting ourselves with Jesus’ suffering will we be able to shift the focus from ourselves and truly be purified. Despite all the efforts we are called to make, during Lent, we repeatedly hear the familiar words of the Psalmist, “O wash me more and more from my guilt, and cleanse me from my sin.” We cry desperately acknowledging that God alone can make us clean, purifying us all by the blood and water poured out from his pierced heart.
Response: Have mercy, O Lord, for we have sinned.
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