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The EDSA Shrine is fullest on Ash Wednesday, more than Christmas, more than the EDSA Anniversary. We are fullest on Ash Wednesday and it is not even a holiday of obligation. No one is required or obliged to go to Mass today, and yet all of us are here. Why are we here and why are we jam-packed inside the EDSA Shrine? I believe we are here because we all want to be better and we are here because we know that we are not the best that we could be.

Our readings for today give us some encouraging words. From the Book of the Prophet Joel and the Letter of Paul to the Corinthians, we are assured that this is the best time to be better. We are assured that this is the best time to rise out of our bad habits, from our wretchedness, from our sinfulness and be better. While Ash Wednesday is the best time to be good, the third week of November, the first week of September, the last week of January, and any other time is also a good time to be good. In other words, we must not wait for Ash Wednesday in order to turn away from sin. Every day of the year is an invitation for us to turn away from sin.

What is being asked of us if we want to turn away from sin? Three things. First, solitude. I appreciate our being together but our coming together as a community must be complemented by being alone. Being alone, away from the community, being away from people, being alone away from the crowd in order to be with God. We must find time to be alone. If there seems to be no other place, the toilet is a good place to be alone and there commune with God. I’m sure no one is going to disturb you there unless a line has formed outside the door.

Second, sacrifice. Today is a day of fasting. It is a day of abstinence. We are supposed to let go of the things that we enjoy. We are supposed to let go of the things that are pleasing to the senses, pleasing to the taste. Why should we let go? Why should we sacrifice? Sacrifice in itself is not good. Sacrifice only becomes good when it is accompanied by sharing. In other words, the food that will not be eaten today, please give away. Don’t eat it tomorrow. In other words, the good food that we will not eat today must be given away to somebody who is poor, to somebody who is hungry practically 365 days of the year. That is the way of fasting.

Solitude, sacrifice, and sharing. Let us not do it only on Ash Wednesday. Let us do it every day of the year. Ash Wednesday makes us focus our attention on these three S’s – solitude, sacrifice, and sharing. The Christian life is characterized by these three things together, every day of the year.

Mt. 6:1-6, 16-18
Love Like Jesus