Lectionary Reflections: Ash Wednesday [a] March 1, 2017

Engaging Faith | Mon, Feb 27, 2017

By John Bucki, S.J.

Ash Wednesday [a]

March 1, 2017


Joel 2:12-18

2 Corinthians 5:20—6:2

Matthew 6:1-6,16-18



February 28: Mardi Gras

March: Women’s History Month

March 1: Ash Wednesday, beginning of Lent

March 1: International Women of Color Day

March 1: Zero Discrimination Day

March 3: World Wildlife Day 

March 8: International Women’s Day



Lent is a new beginning. 

-Pope Francis, 2017 Message for Lent

Indifference to our neighbor and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.

-Pope Francis, 2015 Message for Lent

Each life that we encounter is a gift deserving acceptance, respect and love. 

-Pope Francis, 2017 Message for Lent

The Christian message does not inhibit men and women from building up the world, or make them disinterested in the welfare of their fellow human beings: on the contrary it obliges them more fully to do these very things.

-Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, 34

Fasting is an aid to open our eyes to the situation in which so many of our brothers and sisters live. …. Voluntary fasting enables us to grow in the spirit of the Good Samaritan, who bends low and goes to the help of his suffering brother.

-Benedict XVI, 2009 Message for Lent

In imitation of our Master, we Christians are called to confront the poverty of our brothers and sisters, to touch it, to make it our own and to take practical steps to alleviate it.

-Pope Francis, 2014 Message for Lent

Reading the Bible with the eyes of the poor is a different thing from reading it with a full belly. If it is read in the light of the experience and the hopes of the oppressed, the Bible's revolutionary themes - promise, exodus, resurrection and spirit - come alive.

-Jurgen Moltmann, The Church in the Power of the Spirit

Let us pray for one another so that, by sharing in the victory of Christ, we may open our doors to the weak and poor. 

-Pope Francis, 2017 Message for Lent


Thoughts for Your Consideration

What kind of renewal do you need this Lent?

What kind of renewal do we as a community need this Lent?

What kind of renewal does your church need?

What kind of renewal does our nation and world need?

Pope Francis in his message for Lent 2017 reminds us all people are a gift. “Each life that we encounter is a gift deserving acceptance, respect and love.”

In a nation that is strongly divided politically and where people are often extremely critical of others, what is God calling us to reflect on this Lent?  What is God calling us to do this Lent to bring life and healing to the nation?  How can we treat all people as gifts?

Centuries ago, the prophet Joel called for an assembly of all the people.

Blow the trumpet in Zion!

proclaim a fast, call an assembly;

Gather the people, notify the congregation;

Assemble the elders, gather the children and the infants at the breast;

We are more than individuals looking out for ourselves. Reform in any age is a call for the community to come together for the common good.

What reform does your local community need this season?  Are you being called to address issues around racial diversity or justice for immigrants or economic inequality or quality education for children or hunger and homelessness or religious persecution or environmental justice?

What reform does our global community need to address this Lent?

We must come together to address the challenges of global climate change, an over-dependence on fossil fuels, the destructive mining of limited resources, the lack of a commitment to develop renewable sources of energy, and the need for responsible sharing of what we have for the common good. We need to study and implement Laudato Sí.

We must address the plight of immigrants and refugees. Europe seems overwhelmed with great numbers of people making the dangerous trip and seeking safety from violence in Syria, the Middle East, and Africa. Refugees continue to fee the danger and violence of Central America and try to enter the United States. Some people in the United States and Europe are afraid refugees and afraid of the danger of terrorist attacks. The United States is increasing its efforts to deport people, even people who have been here for a long time and have committed no significant crime. What must we do?

We must come together to address the challenges of peace between and within nations and ethnic groups, the tendency to try to resolve disputes by war rather than reconciliation, the use of so many valuable resources to produce more weapons of war instead of addressing human needs, and the culture of violence that pervades our world.

In the United States, our political system seems broken. We must come together to renew our dysfunctional political system, to create a government less controlled by people with money and influence and to address the needs of all the people and the common good.  

We must come together to address the needs of the poor, whether it be the poor in our nation or in the whole as a whole or the billions who have to try to live on less than two dollars a day.  We must come to together to resolve the problem of income inequality in our American society and in the world as a whole, and to create a world of economic justice for all.

To read the rest of this reflection from John Bucki, S.J., as well as his reflection questions, faith in action links, prayers of intercession, and prayer meditations, become a member of Education for Justice:

Copyright © 2017, Center of Concern.