Ash Wednesday Homily
March 6, 2019


Rev. John P. McGarry, S.J.
Jesuit High School President

Today, we heard in the second reading today from 2 Corinthians:

“Behold, now is a very acceptable time; Behold, now is the day of salvation

How many of you, once in a while, or maybe regularly, or all the time, put thing off that should be done right away?  You know, that paper that’s due tomorrow, or test that’s coming up that you should be studying for, or decision you have to make, or doing something that someone has asked you to do?  And we find ourselves saying:  I’ll get to it later, or I’ll do it tomorrow, or I’ll get it done before class. We procrastinate.

When I find myself procrastinating about something that I should be getting done, I often hear my father’s voice, who used to say in such situations: “No time like the present, John!” This is true for us as well as begin Lent this year:  No time like the present to be the “ambassadors for Christ” that we are called to be, to “rend our hearts” to be more like Christ’s heart: gracious and merciful, rich in kindness.  Our world needs more of this kind of ongoing conversion that is called for on Ash Wednesday, and throughout this season of Lent.  No time like the present to take a look again at our priorities in life, to focus more on what is, rather than what isn’t; to keep striving to be our best selves as disciples of the one who calls us.  No time like the present to acknowledge our shortcomings and our sins, not to beat ourselves up, but to try and be more authentically who God created us and calls us to be every day, with a “clean heart, and a steadfast spirit.” Lent gives us the opportunity to be more intentional about our prayer, so that we can be closer to the Jesus, whose ambassadors we are called to be; to fast from those things that keep us apart from others, so that we can be instruments of joy and hope, healing, peace and reconciliation in our broken world; to give alms and to be of service in a world where so many people are in need.

Maybe we do “give something up” for Lent, which is a traditional Lenten sacrifice.  But just as important:  What are you going to do and when are you going to do it?  What are you going to give, how are you going to help or forgive or give back or pay it forward or strive to be your best self for others as you try to be more like Jesus Christ and follow him, follow his example, and when are you going to do it?

“Behold, now is a very acceptable time; Behold, now is the day of salvation

No time like the present!

Great is your mercy, Lord, and bountiful is your goodness to us.  In your compassion help us to use this time of Lent to draw closer, to live more freely, and give more generously.  Guide us, Lord, in the ways of your truth, and give us the strength to be authentically who we are in relationship to you, for now is the acceptable time, now is the day of our salvation.  Amen.