|The First Reading in Bahasa Malaysia ~ Joel 2 : 12 - 18|
|The Responsorial Psalm,, 'Have mercy on us, O Lord for we have sinned|
Sandakan : Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of lent. We are called to enter this season of grace in the spirit of penance, to acknowledge that God is merciful and at the same time we also acknowledge that we are sinners in need of God's liberation. We therefore ask God for His strength and mercy and to seek His guidance so that we may celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus with open minds and hearts.
|2nd Reading in Chinese 2 Cor 5 : 20 - 6 : 2|
|Fr Anthony Mikat proclaiming the Good News, Matthew 6 : 1 - 6, 16 - 18|
|Bishop Julius in his homily|
Some 2,000 parishioners assembled at the Cathedral to celebrate Ash Wednesday, 13th February 2013 at St Mary's Cathedral. The 7.30 pm tri-lingual Eucharistic celebration was presided by Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom and concelebrated by Fr Anthony Mikat.
Bishop Julius in his homily invited all parishioners to pray for Pope Benedict XVI who had announced his resignation effective end of February that he may be granted good health and continue to serve the Church in other capacities.
The prelate continue to say that the season is a time of fasting, prayer and penance leading us through the 40 days to Jesus' resurrection. This journey of 40 days is similar to that of Jesus own's 40 days spent in the desert in prayer and fasting contemplating his suffering, death and resurrection. The priest will say as he signs the cross on your foreheads with ashes, 'Remember, man, you are dust and unto dust you shall return' ~ an invitation for all to search deep in our hearts reflecting on the antiphon of the Gospel, 'Create in me a clean heart O God and renew the right spirit within me.'
From the Gospel, Jesus gives us the three traditional pillars of lenten observances; prayer, fasting and almsgiving. In prayer we build up our relationship with God, uniting ourselves with Jesus in the Church, that is His body. Fasting is not merely exercising self-control and self-discipline but to help us realize the sufferings of those who are forced to fast due to poverty, injustices and economy and political structure. Thus the Church exhorts her members to be generous in giving for it is an expression of our gratitude of all that God has given us. The act of giving is in fact an attitude of hearts; humble, repentant, merciful and compassionate. As disciples, we are all duty bound to give to those in need.
The lenten season may be a time to prepare ourselves to the death and resurrection of Jesus. We are called to walk with Christ with our behaviour approved by God and not applauded by man. Our sacrifice in giving, reaching out to the someone in need should fall in line with what Jesus said, 'your left hand should not know what your right hand is doing.' It is in such attitude that we may enter this time of grace with God's guidance and celebrate with hope the true meaning of Easter.