The following homily was delivered by Fr. Arturo Borja, SJ during the Blessing and Distribution of Ashes within the Liturgy of the Word on 18 February 2015.
Four Seasons each year: Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter.
Today, Ash Wednesday, we begin the Season of Lent with a very meaningful symbol, the imposition or putting of ashes on our forehead. Where did this originate? Long before, going back to the time of the Old Testament,
When the people did something wrong and offensive to the Lord,
They would put on sackcloth and put ashes on their body.
That was meant to show that they were sorry…
and they wanted to change.
In our case, we simply put ashes on the forehead with the same intention of being sorry for our offenses to the Lord and one another, and to show we want to change.
Furthermore, the sign that we use is a cross. What does this remind us of?
Jesus on the Cross, of course! And the most important message of Jesus on the cross is this:
I love you… I saved you.
The sad thing however is that not many people are aware of this message. We forget, we ignore this message? Why? Because very often we are too full of many concerns, our own concerns. Me, me, me…
We are like a bowl full of popcorn. Once it’s full, we cannot fill in anymore popcorn. And the Lord is telling us over and over again: I love you, I saved you. But we don’t hear.
So we need to empty the bowl, we need to empty ourselves, we need to set aside too many things, so it is easier for the Lord to enter our mind and our heart.
The season of Lent is meant to help us to become more empty of our own self-interests, our selfishness. How? Today and on Good Friday, we observe Fasting, Abstinence, and for the rest of the season of Lent, we are invited to do good works.
These are meant to help us become less concerned about too many things for our own selves alone, so to become more and more selfless and generous. And most especially to remind ourselves of Jesus on the cross who gave his life for us, in a great act of Self-Sacrifice.
Self-sacrifice should not be new and strange to you. We sing about it in school each General Assembly – “…self-sacrifice, the spirit of charity…”
And so today, as we receive the ashes on our forehead, we remind ourselves that we have now entered the season of Lent. And as Xavier students, faculty and staff, we are invited to exercise self-sacrifice, so that we can become more open and receptive to God talking to us and entering our lives, so that we can all the more remember the tremendous love that Jesus has for each one of us.
As past of our observance of the discipline of Lent, His Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle exhorts all of us to intensify our act of charity, be actively participating in the HAPAG-ASA program of the Church. Part of the program is the FAST2FEED FUND CAMPAIGN where we are encouraged to fast to be able to feed at least 250,000 hungry and undernourished children nationwide. The program feeds children, 6 month to 12 years old, once a day, 5 days a week for 6 months and their parents will be provided with basic skills that will hopefully improve the capacity to care for their children.
Thus, Cardinal Tagle is appealing to us to DONATE whatever we will be able to save from our fasting and abstinence to the HAPAG-ASA Fast2Feed Fund Campaign.
To facilitate the collection of donations, there will be donation cans at strategic places in the canteen where you can put your donation. These will be manned by members of the YCLC and SFC. This drive will start today (Ash Wednesday) every lunch and recess time until the last day of classes.