Ash Wednesday is here! (and probably already gone since I’m so late in posting this!) Kicking off our Lenten season by ridiculously smearing Ashes on our forehead, many of us became a visible sign to the world today of our Christian faith. Wearing our penance and contrition right there on our faces, one can only wonder what the rest of the world thinks of us.
Those Christians… celebrating their weakness, calling to mind their sinfulness, denying themselves the pleasures of the world… what’s with them?
And do you know what? It’s totally cool if they think that. What we do during this season is really peculiar. I mean, it’s pretty bizarre to actively give up what’s good in life and choose to cover our faces with burnt leaves, right? It sort of goes against every evolutionary impulse in our bodies.
Which is why I completely understand why many—even fellow Christians—just don’t get what we’re doing. I received a message last week from a viewer:
How sad, I have to say. Understandable, but sad. You see, one can absolutely understand why someone would say this. Looking at the external expressions of the season, we see many things that are far from happiness and glee: fasting, giving away our money, doing penance, sacrificing what we love, worshipping with a little less… excitement. For sure, there is a seriousness to the season, a focus that can come off as displeasing and negative.
But is that really what this season is about? Absolutely not! As I share in this week’s reflection, Lent is actually a season of great hopefulness. The key to it all is to keep our focus on the true purpose of Lent: coming closer to Jesus Christ.