Ampleforth Abbey

24 November 2017

Echoes of the Word 1st March 2017



Commentary on Matthew 6: 1-6, 6-18

The date of Easter varies from year to year because it has to coincide with a full moon, as did the Jewish feast of Passover. Therefore the start of Lent moves back and forward. This year Ash Wednesday occurs in the eighth week of Ordinary Time. The Gospel readings at Mass on Shrove Monday and Tuesday are from the tenth chapter of St Mark’s Gospel. The rich man runs up to Jesus and asks him “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” So this year we start Lent with those words ringing in our ears. What must I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus’ response to the man in the Gospel is to tell him to keep the commandments, and then Jesus goes one step further when he tells him to sell everything he has and give the money to the poor. This is a Gospel passage that has inspired many saints down the years, including Saint Antony of Egypt, one of the earliest monks. Peter points out to Jesus that he and the other disciples have left everything, then Jesus promises them a hundredfold reward. The same reward is offered even today to those who follow Jesus wholeheartedly.

Fr Terence Richardson OSB, Prior



Lent

Lent – the very word can cause us to sigh because for many Lent speaks of something negative, it is all about giving things up, doing more, reminding us that we are all sinners, and dust and ashes. Is it really such a season of gloom and doom? I would suggest not and so we should listen attentively to the Gospel given to us to reflect on at the Ash Wednesday Mass. It is not about doom and gloom at all. I would like to suggest that the season of Lent is indeed a joyful season and so perhaps rather than worrying about what to do or give up this Lent we might try to keep it simple. Jesus asks us to focus on three things – making time for prayer, being generous to others and learning to make sacrifices. Yes, it is as simple as that. And all of this is to be done with a joyful heart, for the Lord indeed loves a cheerful giver. So this Ash Wednesday perhaps we should put oil on our heads and wash our faces as we begin this season of fasting. What have we got to lose?

Fr Kieran Monahan OSB