Ash Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, Year B

Please see How to Use Lection Connection

Full lections can be read here.

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Joel 2:1-2, 12-17)

Through the prophet Joel YAHWEH warns of an impending “Day of the Lord” and pleads with his people to return to him in sincerity of heart. He calls for a fast that goes beyond mere outward observance and relies instead on YAHWEH’s steadfast love and mercy.

Psalm (51:1-17)

The Psalmist, deeply aware of his own sinfulness, realizes that what he truly needs is a new spirit, a new heart. A merciful and loving YAHWEH grants these to those who sincerely and humbly offer him a broken and repentant spirit.

Second Reading (2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10)

St. Paul pleads with the Corinthians to get right with God through Christ who has taken our sin upon himself and shares with us the righteousness of God. This is the day of salvation for which the apostle has worked, suffered, and, paradoxically, been blessed.

Gospel (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21)

Jesus teaches that practicing our religion in order to impress others reveals only that the things of heaven are not of ultimate importance to us. Hearts truly oriented to God will be content to do these things in secret, knowing that his blessings await in due course.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • The poverty of superficial religious observance
  • God looks upon the heart
  • The necessity of a changed heart in order to please God
  • Good deeds issue from good souls and not the other way round
  • The true fast is of the heart
  • A little humility goes a long way

Based on the Alternative First Reading

First Reading (Isaiah 58:1-12)

Isaiah voices YAHWEH’s displeasure with a people who seek to draw near to him through fasting while not observing his ways. A true fast, one that will ultimately lead to Israel’s restoration, is caring for those in need and bringing injustice to an end.

Psalm (51:1-17)

The Psalmist, deeply aware of his own sinfulness, realizes that what he truly needs is a new spirit, a new heart. A merciful and loving YAHWEH grants these to those who sincerely and humbly offer him a broken and repentant spirit.

Second Reading (2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10)

St. Paul pleads with the Corinthians to get right with God through Christ who has taken our sin upon himself and shares with us the righteousness of God. This is the day of salvation for which the apostle has worked, suffered, and, paradoxically, been blessed.

Gospel (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21)

Jesus teaches that practicing our religion in order to impress others reveals only that the things of heaven are not of ultimate importance to us. Hearts truly oriented to God will be content to do these things in secret, knowing that his blessings await in due course.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • The poverty of superficial religious observance
  • God looks upon the heart
  • The necessity of a changed heart in order to please God
  • Good deeds issue from good souls and not the other way round
  • The true fast is of the heart
  • A little humility goes a long way
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