Angie O’Gorman is a freelance writer living in St. Louis, where she works at Legal Services of Eastern Missouri. She was active in human rights work in Honduras, Guatemala, the West Bank and the United States. Her essays and articles have appeared in America magazine; Commonweal and the National Catholic Reporter.
In his commentary on today’s reading from Matthew, ordained Presbyterian elder Cláudio Carvalhaes describes an Ash Wednesday service he attended with people who were homeless.
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.