Do not take lightly the sacrifices of one’s almsgiving, prayer and fasting for they will not go unrewarded, Bishop Gabriel Malzaire of Roseau said in his Ash Wednesday homily.
The bishop reminded the faithful that Jesus has assured that these sacrifices have a “life-changing quality” that will bring about Easter joy. He called on Catholics to therefore set themselves on this life-changing and life-giving journey of Lent—the path of salvation.
“Today, Valentine’s day, God offers beauty for ashes. He offers us the beauty of his tender love and mercy in exchange for the ashes of our sin and our human frailty. He offers a beautiful reminder of his passionate love for us. A love that constantly invites us deeper and deeper into his heart, into communion with him. There is absolutely no greater love and happy are those who find it,” the bishop told those gathered at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Fair Haven, Roseau.
The bishop’s homily was shared with Catholic News via WhatsApp recording. In it, Bishop Malzaire warned against the tendency of self-promotion, adding that mission without spirituality is “empty” and even good deeds without the right disposition lack value.
“Think of the contrast between boasting about something which will make us look good in the eyes of others and the admittance of the need for confession about a sin that is choking us or preventing us from living fully. For Jesus, what really matters is not what the world thinks of us, but what God sees in the depths of our hearts.”
Bishop Malzaire said the teachings of Jesus are radical and also challenging as they always call for a hard choice. He said, “Be careful not to parade your good deeds before men to attract particular notice. By doing this you will lose your reward from your Father in heaven.”
“Jesus says similar things about almsgiving, about prayer and fasting: All these without fanfare,” he said.
On the other hand, Bishop Malzaire stated that the Lenten season invites all to appreciate a life of interiority, an inner disposition of humility and a quest for deeper self-knowledge. It is one journey, he hoped, that will inevitably lead Catholics to discover how much we need God.
“It is as if we are being invited and challenged to a life of secrecy about the things that usually matter to us. The things we usually showcase. And to bring to greater exposure the things that are more difficult, the things that we prefer to hide.”
Bishop Malzaire said that the ashes received symbolise one’s resolve to enter a journey of purification which will culminate with the Easter encounter. The ashes are also a reminder that we are dust and to dust we shall all return.