Joel 2:12-18; Psalm 51:3-4, 5-6ab, 12-13, 14 and 17 (R/. cf. 3a); 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2; cf. Psalm 95.8; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
Lent means spring, a season of the heart. “Rend your hearts, not your garments,” shouts the prophet Joel (2:13). The word “rend” is related to the rind of an orange or lemon, that tough skin protecting the fruit. So we can imagine a tough covering over our hearts, hard to penetrate. Lent’s work, then, is to peel away whatever prevents our hearts from loving God and loving others. Lent can be a springtime for the heart, bringing new growth and fruitfulness.
Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount remind us of three ways to open our hearts. First is by fasting, which helps us to remember that many in our world go hungry, and to recognize that hunger can affect our spirits. Fasting leads to two other practices: prayer, which brings us into God’s presence, and almsgiving, which calls us to share with those in need.
St. Paul reminds the Corinthians that now is the acceptable time, the day of salvation. Ashes on our forehead call us to recognize God’s call to repentance. Lent offers us forty days to call on God. “A clean heart create for me” (Psalm 51:12).
How will you rend your heart this Lent?