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The Unexamined Life: Reflection for Ash Wednesday

Salt and Light Media

March 6, 2019

by Deacon Robin Cheung

Once upon a time, a fox fell in love with a dog.
They promised to love, protect, and die for one another.
One day, unfortunately, they both were caught by a hunter.
They pleaded for their lives.
The hunter promised to let only one of them go.
He said "Whoever is wins the game 'rock, paper, scissors' will be free. The other will die."
After an emotional conversation, the fox and the dog decided that they had no choice but to play the game.
What happened next?
The dog, crying and confused, said to herself, “Didn't we agree both to play the rock?
Why did you put out paper while I put out my scissors?
Didn’t we promise to die for one another?"
The hunter shook his head and sighed, "What a hypocrite!"

Socrates, the famous Greek philosopher, once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living!”

Have we examined our life lately?
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is reminding us not to act like hypocrites.
The truth is, without prayers and self-examination, we might unintentionally act like hypocrites and continue to hurt ourselves and others.
Today, as we celebrate Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent, let us praise the Lord for his kindness and generosity, for he sacrificed his only son for our salvation.
Let us acknowledge that we are sinners, that we are often hypocrites, and that we need God's grace to redirect us back to his holiness!

God is willing to help us to return to Him! (Joel 2:12)

How do we return to him?
In the second reading, St. Paul advises us to be reconciled to Him (2 Cor 5:20).
In ancient times, when people admitted their sins and were willing to turn a new page, they put on ashes to symbolize their repentance. Today we continue this tradition by blessing and distributing ashes at Mass, after the homily, and everyone is invited to come forward.
The Church also strongly recommends us to go to Confession and to practice fasting, prayer, and almsgiving with a right attitude.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds us of the importance of having the right attitude when practicing our piety.
He warns us not to practice piety like the hypocrites but from our loving hearts.

Why don’t we find some time to meditate on the following questions today?

Do I pray selfishly?
Do I pray from my mouth and not from my heart?
Do I fast only on substance but refuse to fast from gossiping and judging?
Do I give and donate to the poor and the Church but refuse to render forgiveness to my loved ones and friends?
God cares more about how we practice our piety than what we do!
Let us continue to pray and transform ourselves into His holiness!
Holy, sacred Heart of Mary, pray for us!
Have a fruitful Lenten season!

Deacon Robin Cheung is a permanent deacon serving in the Archdiocese of Montreal. Previously, he served at Montreal Chinese Catholic Mission. Currently, he is at St. John Brébeuf Parish in LaSalle.
Contact him by email at robin.cheung@johnbrebeuf.ca.