ASHES TO ASHES, DUST TO GLORY
Saint Matthew 6. 16-21
ASH WEDNESDAY: 13 February Anno Domini 2013
Father Jay Watson
In The + Name of Jesus
God says you will fast. That is a command from God. The Lord orders you to fast. You are to fast from sinning and disobeying. You are to fast from self-worship. You are to fast from despising your neighbors. Christ simply knows that the daily fight against Satan and sin; against the world and the “old Adam” can be, and WILL be accompanied by physical fasting as well as spiritual fasting; by physical warfare as well as prayerful warfare. This is good.
But you don’t fast. You don’t put God first but you put your own selfish wills on the altar of your heart. You don’t even fast during Lententide from meat and wine. The fact that this catholic tradition is salutary and more than 2,000 years old means nothing to an American individualist who’s nature as sinner rebels with self-righteousness over rejecting any idea that there are rules and norms which are helpful. So by not wishing to appear to be a Romanist hypocrite (and the world is filled with them) you become a protestant hypocrite and this country is drowning in their self-smug sanctimoniousness as well. The very fact that you don’t think you’re a hypocrite makes you a bigger one than the Papist who wears his ashes all day long after going to morning.
Stop being a hypocrite! Of course, that is the Law. Hypocrites die. Hypocrites will have their dead bodies placed into the ground, into the dust of the earth to fulfill the Lord’s original curse against Adam’s sin—your sin!
If you seek man’s rewards and man’s approval you will have it…for three-score and ten, or maybe a bit longer. Then when you die your final state will be only dust and ash until the resurrection when it will be a resurrected body in the inferno of hellfire—constantly making ash from fire and brimstone. Repent…and wear ashes and sackcloth; fast as did the repentant King of Nineveh for the Lord will save you. The Lord has saved you.
Jesus wore on the outside what He was taking upon and into Himself on the inside—your sin and trespasses. While you seek acceptance, even at the expense of correct doctrine and idolatry, Jesus embraced lowliness and rejection. While you seek mammon Jesus became the ultimate poor One. He left Heaven and came to the ghetto, the barrio, the town dump to die a horrible and painful death. While sinful man seeks glory, the perfect loving God/Man embraced the cross. He was made ash on the Tree and fasted physically and spiritually just for you. His hunger permits you to be filled. His tears, sweat, and pain give you peace, joy, and the blessed assurance of heaven eternal. His stripping and beatings permit you to be clothed + in royal robes of righteousness. His being laid into the earth of Joseph’s hillside grave, the dust of Adam’s sinful end, permits you from dying eternally.
Jesus is your Ash Wednesday (your Good Friday) so that He might be your Easter Life. Jesus let His heart be pierced with spear so that He could give His heart to you. Jesus is your treasure…not gold coins but God’s Words of “I love you; you are mine, it’s going to be all right, because I Am with you…forever.” Jesus’ words placed into your ears right now as surely as His sign of love has been traced on your forehead. And it is not because you have been marked, on the outside, tonight, but because you have been marked on the inside +, you come now to receive not ashes and dust, but Jesus’ Body and Blood. Ashes to Glory in Jesus.
In The + Name of Jesus