“Lent is a journey that involves our whole life, our entire being. It is a time to reconsider the path we are taking, to find the road that leads us home and to rediscover our profound relationship with God, on whom everything depends. Lent is not just about the little sacrifices we make, but about discerning where our hearts are directed. This is the core question of Lent: where is my life’s navigation system taking me – towards God or towards myself? Do I live to please God, or to be noticed, praised, promoted to the top?

Do I have a wobbly heart, which takes a step forward and then one backwards? Do I love the Lord a bit and the world a bit, or is my heart steadfast in God? Am I content with my hypocrisies, or do I work to free my heart from the duplicity and falsehood that tie it down?

The word of God asks us to return to the Father, to return to Jesus. It also asks us to return to the Holy Spirit. The ashes on our head remind us that we are dust and unto dust we will return. Yet upon this dust of ours God blew his Spirit of life. Thus we should no longer live our lives chasing dust, chasing things that are here today and gone tomorrow.

Let us return to the Spirit, the Giver of Life. Let us return to the fire that resurrects our ashes, to the Fire who teaches us to love. We will always be dust, but as a liturgical hymn says, “dust in love.” Let us pray once more to the Holy Spirit and rediscover the fire of praise, which consumes the askes of lamentation and resignation.

Brothers and sisters, our return journey to God is possible only because God first journeyed to us. Otherwise it would be impossible.”

Pope Francis, Ash Wednesday Homily 2021

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