17 February 2021

Reading and meditation on the Word of God on ASH WEDNESDAY, February 17, 2021

Rend your hearts, not your garments. We welcome the season of penitence – Lent starting from the Ash Wednesday. Reading and meditation on the Word of God on Ash Wednesday, February 17, 2021. Reading is delivered by Antonius Fitrianto and meditation delivered by Yovita Dela Herbrianti (from Saint Peter’s School in Jakarta, Indonesia). Joel 2: 12-18; Rs psalm 51: 3-4.5-6a.12-13.14.17; 2 Corinthians 5: 20 – 6:2; Matthew 6: 1-6.16-18.


Our meditation on this Ash Wednesday has the theme: Standard of the Spiritual Life. There have been many lifestyle changes in our society caused by this Covid-19 pandemic. There is a little story comes from Stevanus and Melania’s family who with their three children also experience some changes. The office’s works and the children’s schools are done from home. Since practically everyone is at home, they have succeeded begun a new habit of praying together as a family. In a WhatsApp message he shared with his friends, Stevanus said that his family’s spiritual life indeed has a true Christian standard, especially the fact that the family has been consistent their daily family prayers. They also pay attention to each other more frequent and getting stronger than before.

Judaism tradition inherited a standard of the spiritual life which Jesus Christ too taught us. This spirituality includes the three basic obligatory practices namely fasting, prayer, and charity. The Jewish religious leaders strictly obliged them to every people. If all three were regularly and strictly done, a person was considered faithful to the religion and was blessed by God. Jesus also commanded His followers to observe well these three religious practices. They were obliged to pray, to fast and to do charity in the following of Jesus’ way.

Actually, there is a clear difference between the standard of spirituality taught by Jesus and that of the Jewish religious leaders. The Pharisees and scribes were the leading figures in this type of Judaism spirituality. The difference is basically about the motivation or purpose of doing those practices. For Jesus and what He always emphasizes to us, the motivation for praying, fasting, and doing charity is to have a deep relationship with God. It is truly a spiritual activity, our hearts and souls that work, and and expression of our faith in God. The book of the prophet Joel in the first reading emphasizes a renewal of the heart, and not of the external activities such as wearing torn clothes and various other external attributes that are attached to our bodies and our places.

This confirms that the spiritual life of the Jews is very contrary to what Jesus teaches us. Their spirituality is not for God but for the praise from others that they are holy and good. They already get their rewards with that appearance, while God does not give His blessing to them. Jesus makes it clear that we should not follow such external standards. Our standard is in the heart which is directly related to God. Whenever these three religious observances are properly practiced, it is when a person experiences God’s way of salvation, says Saint Paul in the today’s second reading.

This is the spirit of Ash Wednesday that we all celebrate today to begin our Lenten season.

Let’s pray. In the name of the Father … O Lord God, grant that with this Ash Wednesday we will be filled with new zeal and resolution to begin this process of renewal in this Lent. Our Father who art in heaven… In the name of the Father …

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