God has summoned us here this morning to announce a great fast. Throughout our history, since Adam, God has called His People back to Him so we can once again enjoy the unity of our creation in His Image and likeness.
Each of us from our conception is made in God’s image. It is what unites us both to God and to one another. It is this image that makes us the same. Our diversity comes not in the soul but through our bodies. There we have similarities but we are not identical. Our bodies demonstrate a unique quality and a specific mission given to us out of God’s eternal love.
We are called here to accept on our foreheads ashes of contrition, a real expression of sorrow for committing sin no matter how great or small how infrequent or frequent. Sin is not being faithful to the Divine Image we bear. “Every breach with God is at the same time a disruption of human unity.” (Maximus the Confessor)
You see how the martyrdom of the Christian Copts last week effected us, not just me or you, but us as a parish as a Church. Sin breaks the fabric of unity into pieces and cries out for reconciliation and healing.
Ash Wednesday is not just an individual call to repentance, it is a call out to all human beings, even to members of ISIS to be sorry for having fractured the Image of God and tarnished It.
Open your hearts so that the Church may do Her work. “Between the porch and Altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord share in your sorrow, allow them to touch you with the Hand of Christ and heal you, bringing you repent and do penance for what you have done, for what evil men do to the lost, the confused, the poor and to those who hunger for righteousness. And they will pray every day, “Spare, O Lord your people and make nor Your heritage a reproach.”
God sends His Son through the Church to call us back to unity by encouraging us to pray more, to fast more and to give alms more. The Church promises us that the real fruit of our union with God is union with others. The same Image that is in each of us is familiar, peaceful, radiant and pure. We can recognize it; we can love it in each other.
The Lenten Time summons each of you to rediscover your original beauty, the peace, the love and the joy of being a part of the whole and not an island alone and afraid. Let this mark be your sign of who you are in the communion of the Church. Let it be a true sign of your sorrow and your determination to discover the Image and Likeness of God in every human being.
Let us then “begin this holy fasting this campaign of Christian service for the whole Church, so that, as we take up the battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with the weapons of self-restraint.”