Wednesday 1 March
Ash Wednesday

Joel 2.12-18
Psalm 51.3-6, 12-14, 17
2 Corinthians 5.20-6.2
Matthew 6.1-6, 16-18
This year it seems a good idea to link the Lenten readings to what may be the most pressing problem of our time, the immense and increasing number of refugees in our world, and the question of what God is asking us to do about them. One of the issues that today’s readings invite us to consider is whether it is perhaps our fault, or the fault of the political leaders whom we have elected, that they are refugees in the first place. The first reading, from Joel invites us to ‘turn back to the Lord your God’, and to weep and ask for mercy; that means mercy for the refugees, and mercy for us who ignore their plight. In the second reading, Paul is begging his maverick Christians to get things sorted out in good time, and he bellows that ‘NOW is the acceptable time ... the day of salvation’. Then the gospel invites us to ‘give alms’; but not as a way of attracting attention: ‘Don’t have a trumpet blown ahead of you’, like the ‘fake-pietists’.

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