Come back to me with all your heart - Ash Wednesday 2020

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > Come back to me with all your heart - Ash Wednesday 2020

Today as we commence the season of Lent I commend the words of the Prophet Joel to you. The words are given in the opening of the first reading of this Mass.

He says with deep conviction that this is God’s explicit command: “Now, now – it is the Lord who speaks – come back to me with all your heart.”

Prophets spoke with the burning conviction because under the influence of the Holy Spirit they knew that what they were saying was the actual word of God. They understood that they are the mouthpiece of God. Their words are in fact God’s words. There was a fire in their hearts as they spoke.

No doubt their listeners detected this fire and were moved by the intensity of their message. Time and distance from this utterance can rob it of its inherent power to convict.

Today let us allow this word to penetrate our hearts.

We are here today at this Ash Wednesday Mass because we want to embrace this season of spiritual renewal and personal reform. We allow ashes to be placed on our forehead because we know that we need to repent and hear the Gospel afresh. So let us hear the Lord saying to us, personally and seriously, “Come back to me with all your heart.” Allow these words to rest deep within us. Let us hold on to them as we go forth into Lent this year.

As we hear these words we know that we need to do as they say. We believe, but we know that our faith is not as deep and sincere as it should be. We want to live the Christian life, but we know that we daily fail in the quality of our Christian moral life. In other words, we want to be better than we are.

We know that we do not fully live as we should, as we want to.

This season is not just a time to feel awkward or ashamed at the quality of our Christian life, it is also a season of grace. It is a time when grace will flow in upon us to lift our efforts and steel our desires.

As God calls us back to himself, he comes to help us in our weakness. He sends his Spirit to give us grace to change.
Today our prayer, the prayer of our heart, can be simple and sincere: "Lord I want to take the opportunity of this Lent to come back to you. Give me the grace to make this Lent a time of genuine personal renewal in faith and love."

Archbishop Julian Porteous
Tuesday, 25 February 2020