The epistle for Ash Wednesday states: “For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” The perfect Son, who is God, willingly became man and entered the fallen world so that sinful men and women might become children of God. This divine paradox is echoed in the Gospel for Thursday, March 6, where Jesus states, “For
whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Lk 9:24). Lent is a season for seeing the world through the eyes of Christ, which means many of our assumptions will be challenged or even turned upside down. And one of those involves prayer.
In the Gospel for Ash Wednesday, from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus condemns those who give alms in order to gain attention, who purposefully appear gloomy while fasting to appear pious, and who pray in public in a way meant to garner praise. “But when you pray,” Jesus said, “go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”
After all, the call to follow Jesus is not meant for those who think they already are saved and spiritually whole. As we hear in the Gospel for Saturday, March 8: “I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”
O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk. But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant. Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions, and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou, unto ages of ages. Amen.”
— Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem
Repentance, Fasting, Mercy, Salvation, Following Christ