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Luke 4:1-13 1st Sunday of Lent Year C Cebuano March 6, 2020 Dili mabuhi ang tawo sa pan lamang. Simbaha ang Ginoo nga imong Dios ug siya lamang ang alagari. Ayaw tintala ang Ginoo nga imong Dios
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Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18 Ash Wednesday March 2, 2022 When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites

Ash Wednesday
Joel 2:12-18
2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

A. Text/Context
• The gospel today reminds us of the importance of observing what should be our right conduct and attitude when we exercise the 3 pillars of lent: when we give alms, when we pray, and when we fast
• Jesus gives this teaching to his disciples because the prevailing practices of charity, prayer and fasting at that time reek with abuse and hypocrisy especially among the Pharisees
• When it concerns charity, it is the practice of the hypocrites at that time to drop coins intentionally and they will see to it that it creates a sound so it attracts attention and the people will praise them. The poor will then pick it up
• On prayer, the hypocrites would love to pray on the streets at the sight of everyone. Judaic religion or Judaism obliges the Jews to pray during specific hours of the day
• The arrogant and the proud would take a walk and they will see to it that when the clock strikes for the hour of prayer, they stopped on the most conspicuous part of the street to pray, seen and praised by everyone
• It’s the same with fasting. The prevailing practice at that time is to wear sackcloth, putting ashes on the body indicating that the person is on fasting and penance to make atonement for the sins committed
• They want to look disheveled and appear gloomy and unkempt to indicate remorse and sadness of conscience
• Jesus finds these things all wrong. Jesus knows that the real intention of giving, praying and fasting is already defeated because the results go to personal gains, to reap praises and to become popular. Jesus said these people already received their reward
• And now he directs his disciples not to emulate the prevailing bad examples. Jesus tells his disciples to do the exact opposite
• Instead of trumpeting to everyone that you give, pray, and fast; instead of being very open and flamboyant in doing acts of piety, Jesus offers a new alternative to his disciples; to do everything in secret because the Father sees what is hidden and he will repay you
• The message of the gospel is very clear, the sacrifices that we do in Lent is for God’s eyes only. And there, we will be rewarded in secret

B. Human Situation
• Brothers and sisters, all the readings that we hear today tell us of the message of repentance. To repent for our sins, to do an act of penance like fasting and abstinence in order to obtain God’s mercy and forgiveness
• Today is Ash Wednesday, and Ash Wednesday is the start of the Lenten Season or Cuaresma, hence, the Lenten season is a period of 40 days, so it is Cuaresma in Spanish it numbers 40 days
• From today you count 40 days in the calendar excluding Sundays until Holy Saturday is the whole Lenten season
• And there are 3 Pillars of Lent: almsgiving, prayer, and fasting and it begins today, Ash Wednesday. The Holy Catholic Church requires us to perform these three things as a form of penance
• And the Church recommends Fasting and Abstinence. Fasting means you fast for one full meal a day. That means you either skip one of the three meals: either breakfast, or lunch, or supper. You will only eat twice but snacks are allowed however. It applies to ages 18 years to 60 years old. The sick people are exempted
• The days of fasting are only two: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday only and of course you can do more than what is required. The money that you saved from fasting, you will give to the poor, to the Church or whoever needs it
• So you are now fasting and giving at the same time. This is the original intention. The early Christians fasted so that the poor will have something to eat. That is why we cannot require the hungry to fast
• Abstinence is a ban on the eating of meat to symbolize penance for the sins of the flesh that we commit. It applies to 14 years old and above. Again, you can always modify it according to your capacity. The church does not impose strict compliance for as long as there is the spirit of sacrifice, it makes the action holy
• When you fast, you are doing a sacrifice and since sacrifice is a form of prayer, you are already doing the three pillars of lent, prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, together with the usual prayers that we do like attending mass, praying the rosary and the divine mercy and other devotions
• Fasting is so effective or efficacious and can also be modified in other forms. In Medjugorje, the BVM herself advised the visionaries to fast on bread and water. They will not eat anything but bread and water in order to ward off the temptations of Satan
• You can also take milk or coffee or juice for the whole day without any solid food so you can feel the pain and the hunger
• Surely, you will not die if you miss eating solid food just for one straight day
• Another important thing, is that you will offer your fasting for the personal intention that you need
• Fasting and abstinence are two of the best ways to ask the Lord to grant your prayers
• The Poor Clare sisters would fast and pray for a certain intention. When they receive prayer petitions they would divide it among themselves and offer sacrifices for your intentions
• The little offering of sacrifice that we offer to the Lord would make him grant what we ask

C. Challenge
• So this is it my brothers and sisters, as the season of Lent starts, we are all invited to do some form of sacrifice and penance because prayer makes our soul holy or sanctified. Sacrifice can make our body mortified
• This is one of the tactics used by the saints in order that God will look upon them with mercy and God will listen to their prayers. Prayers, sacrifices, and mortifications can make us very pleasing before the eyes of God bearing in mind that it is for God’s eyes only
• When a person makes penance, that person is sanctified and becomes holy. When we become holy, we become so pleasing before the eyes of God so that whatever we ask of him God will always grant your request if it conforms to his own will and design
• When our soul and body become sanctified and holy, even the laws of nature will be suspended if we ask for it; even the demons are horrified at the mere sight of our countenance or face
• That’s how efficacious prayers are and let us put into the maximum the practice of the 3 pillars of lent and many miracles can happen in the world that we do not even know and see that they are occurring as our prayers are answered
• And in the light of the war going on in Eastern Europe between Russia and Ukraine, your prayers are even more needed by the citizens of these countries this time
• The forces of darkness are at work non-stop 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Satan knows very well that he is running out of time because he has already seen his demise in this spiritual warfare
• You need to offer also a personal prayer for the intention of the Church

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Matthew 6 verse 1-6

Matthew 6 verse 1-6

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