(Joel 2:12-18; II Corinthians 5:20-6:2; Matthew 6:1-6.16-18)
World Youth Day events in Panama attracted approximately 500,000 pilgrims from around the world. Needless to say, there was not enough hotel space for all those people. But hotels were not necessary as schools, churches, even private homes opened their doors. They not only provided lodging but in some cases food as well. Panamanians showed needed solidarity with their guests.
Lent may be thought of as a pilgrimage requiring solidarity. All Christians support one another in this annual drive to become more Christ-like. Without mutual support most people would not aspire to fasting, prayer, and good works that characterize their savior. Many others would falter in the long but necessary course of forty days.
We wear signs of ashes today to indicate the common need to repent of sinfulness. Thus, we sport them both humbly and proudly. We say “humbly,” of course, because they indicate that we have been selfish. We add “proudly” because they indicate our faith in Christ to transform us.