“Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?”
Some people may remember a song that was popular almost 50 years ago. In 1971, a group from Canada called the Five Man Electrical Band had a hit called "Signs". The song is about how signs are always telling us what to do, and the chorus says, “Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?”
Almost five decades later, the question it poses — “Can’t you read the sign?” — is one we might ask ourselves today. We are going to be signed with ash in the sign of our Faith, the cross. “Can’t you read the sign?”
The cross of ashes means that we are making a commitment — that we are undertaking Lent as a season of prayer and penitence, of dying to ourselves. It also describes our human condition: it says that we are broken and need repair; that we are sinners and need redemption. Most importantly, it tells us that, as followers of Jesus Christ, we are to carry our crosses. It also reminds us that we are dust and ashes — mortal human beings carrying an immortal soul.
By receiving the ashes, we confess that we are sinners in need of the mercy of God, and we ask forgiveness for the various ways in which we have hurt our brothers and sisters. Lent is a time for forgiveness and reconciliation. Let us allow the spirit of forgiveness to work its healing influence in our parishes and families.
Merciful Jesus, lead me into this season of Lent with a heart enlarged for prayer and penitence. Help me to “read the sign” and re-commit to my commitment to You. Amen.
"Looking at little life moments with a spiritual eye."