Therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.- Job 42:6
This morning I got up early in order to go to church to receive ashes. Ash Wednesday is the start of Lent, the forty day period between Ash Wednesday and Easter. During this season of Lent I hope to become closer to God and Jesus. In the Catholic faith it is tradition to give something up as well as not eat meat on Fridays and Ash Wednesday. At church the priest gave the homily about humility as a reason why we wear ashes.
The symbol the ashes have on my forehead shows others that I am Catholic, but also a sign on humility. It is not a fashion statement to go out and public and wear a black mark. It is not a sign that I am a better person than the other people for going to church and receiving them. It is a sign that I have made mistakes in the past. Many of us have made such mistakes and by apologizing to others as well as God and Jesus by having made them, I am already taking a step in the right direction. Going to work today with ashes on my forehead many people asked me why I had a mark there. Some didn’t realize that today is Ash Wednesday. Others who realized this special day said, “Wow, you got ashed. You are blessed today.”
I found being told that I was blessed today odd. Yes, I did receive more ashes than other people around me. But, why should I be more blessed than the other person. I did not get more of them on purpose. The deacon that bestowed them upon me had just put his thumb down to get more on. I found this a sign of humility as well. There were times when I would walk by someone who had received ashes from a different church, but did not get as many. They would say something like why didn’t I get more or where did you go. Occasionally, someone would walk by and say something right in the middle of the conversation with the other person. I would look at the person who did not receive as many ashes and they would seem a little more relaxed that they did not get as much. I think this is because they didn’t want it to show up on their forehead.
I found being asked questions interesting. People noticed them and others had said they were going to get them tonight. But, why wait until later tonight. Did they not want others to see the mark on their forehead. Were they ashamed of having to wear them on this day? I am not ashamed to wear ashes on my forehead on this holy day. But why are others? Some people think that they are funny and point and laugh. Others just don’t pay any mind. The fact that people laugh at the ashes shows that they are not ignorant, but are a sign of humiliation that comes with sin. Sin is something that lives inside all of us.
When it comes down to it, receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday is not a bad thing. But a good thing, to show your humility to Jesus and God. Humility is a part of life because we are sometimes ashamed of mistakes that we had made in the past. By acting on humility I am already apologizing by allowing God and Jesus to see that I am truly sorry for my actions. During the next forty days, I am hoping that this Holy season will bring me closer to Him.