Ash Wednesday

by Matthew B. Harper

Matthew 6:20-21 – …Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

In the Sermon on the Mount Christ is imploring us not to value the things of the world, and not to live according to the rules of the world. Christ has come to us to remind us to live our lives for the things that matter. This is a powerful reminder as we begin the period of Lent. In this full passage we are reading about fasting. For Christ does not ask us to fast, but simply tells us what to do when we fast. It is taken as a given that we will fast for periods on our walk.

Fasting is not about punishing ourselves; it is about showing our devotion and obedience to God. Fasting is a tool God has given us to help correct and control the urges that are out of control. Fasting is a way that we put aside those things of the world so that we may focus more fully on God. To let lose from those things that will pass away, and hold tight to those things that are eternal

So when we read these words of Matthew, we are not being told to forsake the world, or to reject it. Instead we are told to hold dear those treasures that are of God, those that will endure for all time, and to let go of everything else. St. Paul reminds us what those things are: “Purity, understanding, patience and kindness, in Holy Spirit and sincere Love, in Truthful speech and in the power of God.

“Create in us new and contrite hearts, that we, lamenting of our sins, may obtain, by the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness.” BCP166