It made no sense to put ashes on the forehead of the homeless for they know, better than any of us, what it is to remember their mortality. … In many ways, to pay attention to the homeless is to have ashes placed on our foreheads.
This interlude is the time between transgression and awareness, when God invites us forward into life; it is so much more powerful than anger or violence.
There is an atmosphere in two of today's readings that Catholic blogger Todd Flowerday calls "an interlude of mercy" (catholicsensibility.wordpress.com/2014/08/17/reconciliation-lectionary-wisdom). The phrase well captures a sense of God's patience with us sinners as we figure out how to respond to love.
During the months of upheaval following the killing of Michael Brown by a policeman in Ferguson, Mo., in August 2014, protesters described their standoff with the authorities by chanting, "This is what democracy looks like!" Clergy and religious leaders added, "This is what theology looks like," as they marched or held street-side sit-downs.