Thank you for joining the Good Shepherd Live Mass for Ash Wednesday 2/17/2021

Going Deeper – Gospel Reflections

Readings for Ash Wednesday 2/17/2021

Reading I

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.
Perhaps he will again relent
and leave behind him a blessing,
Offerings and libations
for the LORD, your God.

Blow the trumpet in Zion!
proclaim a fast,
call an assembly;
Gather the people,
notify the congregation;
Assemble the elders,
gather the children
and the infants at the breast;
Let the bridegroom quit his room
and the bride her chamber.
Between the porch and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep,
And say, “Spare, O LORD, your people,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
with the nations ruling over them!
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’”

Then the LORD was stirred to concern for his land
and took pity on his people.

R.    (see 3a)  Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
R.    Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
For I acknowledge my offense,
and my sin is before me always:
“Against you only have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight.”
R.    Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R.    Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
R.    Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.

Brothers and sisters:
We are ambassadors for Christ,
as if God were appealing through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin,
so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

Working together, then,
we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
For he says:

    In an acceptable time I heard you,
and on the day of salvation I helped you.

Behold, now is a very acceptable time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.

Verse Before the Gospel

If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms,
do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room,
close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you fast,
do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast,
anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

The Last Gospel

John 1:1-14

In the beginning* was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.

What came to be
through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.

A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world,
and the world came to be through him,
but the world did not know him.

He came to what was his own,
but his own people did not accept him.
But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name,
who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.

And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth.

Lent—A Time for True Prayer

But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. Matthew 6:6

One of the most important parts of true prayer is that it takes place deep in the inner room of your soul. It is there in the inner depths of your being that you will meet God. Saint Teresa of Ávila, one of the greatest spiritual writers in the history of our Church, describes the soul as a castle in which God dwells. Meeting Him, praying to Him and communing with Him requires that we enter into the deepest and innermost chamber within this castle of our soul. It is there, in the innermost dwelling, that the full glory and beauty of God is discovered.

God is not just a God who is “out there” far away in Heaven. He is a God Who is closer and more intimate than we could ever imagine. Lent is a time, more than any other time of the year, when we must strive to make that journey inward so as to discover the Indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity.

What does God want of you this Lent? It’s easy to begin Lent with more superficial commitments, such as giving up a favorite food or doing an extra good deed. Some choose to use Lent as a time to get in better physical shape, and others decide to dedicate more time to spiritual reading or other holy exercises. All of this is good and useful. But you can be certain that the deepest desire of our Lord for you this Lent is that you pray.

Prayer, of course, is much more than saying prayers. It’s not only saying the rosary, or meditating upon Scripture, or reciting beautifully composed prayers. Prayer is ultimately a relationship with God. It’s an encounter with the Triune God Who dwells within you. True prayer is an act of love between you and your Beloved. It’s an exchange of persons: your life for God’s. Prayer is an act of union and communion by which we become one with God and God becomes one with us.

The great mystics have taught us that there are many levels to prayer. We often begin with the recitation of prayers, such as the beautiful prayer of the rosary. From there we meditate, ponder and reflect deeply upon the mysteries of our Lord and His life. We come to know Him more fully and, little by little, discover that we are no longer just thinking about God, but we are gazing at Him face to face.

As we begin the holy season of Lent, reflect upon your practice of prayer. If the images of prayer presented here intrigue you, then make a commitment to discover more. Commit yourself to the discovery of God in prayer. There is no limit and no end to the depth to which God wants to draw you through prayer. True prayer is never boring. When you discover true prayer, you discover the infinite mystery of God. And this discovery is more glorious than anything you could ever imagine in life.

My divine Lord, I give myself to You this Lent. Draw me in so that I may come to know You more. Reveal to me Your divine presence, dwelling deep within me, calling me to Yourself. May this Lent, dear Lord, be glorious as I strengthen my love and devotion through the discovery of the gift of true prayer. Jesus, I trust in You.

Source of content: mycatholic.life