Our heart is often burdened with things that weigh it down, things that we struggle to get rid of, things that cling to us. We need to call these things by their names and starve them to death.
Today’s readings can be found here. Read Fr. Epicoco’s brief reflections on the daily Mass readings, Monday through Saturday, here. For Sunday Mass reading commentary from Fr. Rytel-Andrianik, see here.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. Lent is not a “sad season.” It is but a penitential time. The difference is important. Penance means getting rid of everything that prevents joy.
Our heart is often burdened with things that weigh it down, things that we struggle to get rid of, things that cling to us. We need to call these things by their names and starve them to death. Everything that keeps us from being free must die within us. Lent helps us to see the kind of things that we usually keep hidden within ourselves.
Today’s Gospel tells us where to start: “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”
The first thing that should be uprooted in us is the urge to be seen by others. This is not a moral, but an existential consideration. We all need to be seen, considered, appreciated. None of us can go on without feeling that we are looked upon with affection.
But what Jesus teaches us is that God’s loving gaze is always upon us, giving us life. He keeps us alive. His loving gaze sees way beyond our miseries. In every person he met, Jesus saw not only their guilt, but the person hiding beneath it.
Lent is a time to let this gaze reach us, and get rid of everything that hinders it.
Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.