God alone makes us happy

February 18, 2015 – Ash Wednesday

Joel 2:12-18; 2 Corinthians 5:20–6:2; Matthew 6:1-6,16-18
Fr Fernando Torres, CMF
Claretian Publications

We really like to be seen when we do something right. We want to be recognized for doing something good. We want people to praise us. Many times we could even say that we are not interested in being recognized but just in doing good. And yet, there is the secret wish to be praised.

Sometimes we are bothered by the fact that, after a great effort or sacrifice for others, no one seems to take notice; sometimes people seem to take us for granted. Jesus tells us today not to look for praise, for people to speak well of us, or admire us. The good things we are all called to during Lent—prayer, fasting, and good works—are for God. Deep down, they do us good, too, and, of course, they benefit those around us. But they are simply an expression of our relationship with God.

In Lent we initiate a way to return to God from wherever we are. We start a deep recognition of who we are and who God is in our lives. The church invites us to prayer—that is, to a conversation with God. It also calls us to fast as a sign of solidarity with those who have much less than we do, and as a sign of our hunger for God. It calls us, finally, to good works of charity for those around us.

Many times, perhaps, we think that Lent is a somber time when we have to be sad because we are doing penance. Today Jesus tells us that our good works are to be joyful, that our fast benefits others, and that, being with God is the only thing that can give us happiness.

For reflection

-What do you think about Lent?
-How could the fact that you sacrifice or deprive yourself of something may benefit others?

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