Ash Wednesday Gospel reflection: God reads the inside story

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The readings for Ash Wednesday all share the same message: change (“return to me with your whole heart,” Joel 2:12); change now (“Behold, now is a very acceptable time,” 2 Corinthians 6:2); and change from the inside out (“pray to your Father in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you,” Matthew 6:6).

The inside story is what God reads. The inside story is the truth we tell. Its chapters are the movements of our hearts and the choices of our lives. What we do, what we say is secondary to the “why” of it all. It is our motivation, the movement of our hearts that counts.

When we give gifts, they are a sign of the love we have for the ones who receive them. When we speak words of comfort, it is because we care for the hearer. God knows our hearts and asks us to “rend” them rather than our garments. The inside story is what matters, for there we are called to purify motivation, let go of the anxieties that fill our minds, and reclaim our power to mend fractured relationships. God invites us on Ash Wednesday to look at what we say and do and not to cover up our actions or offer excuses. Reading the inside story with God will bring about a peaceful change of heart.

 — Sr. Martha Alken, OP


Joel: 2:12–18

Psalm: 51:3–4, 5–6ab, 12–13, 14 and 17

2 Corinthians 5:20—6:2

Matthew 6:1–6, 16–18

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