We are marked with the sign of the cross. Made of ashes, it is not a beautiful cross. It’s ugly. It reminds us that Jesus Christ who had no stain of any sin, took upon himself, the ugliness of all sins and its sting – death. It is no pretty thing.
The cross is traced on our forehead, the most exposed part of our body. Christ was not crucified behind closed doors, in private or in a secluded place. His death was public. The cross on which he hung was for the whole world to see. For the proud, the cross is an embarrassment. For the repentant sinner, the cross inspires humility and gratitude to Christ for paying the price he paid for my sins when it should have been me punished and not Him.
Finally, the ashes will soon wash off. The cross is never the last word. The resurrection from the dead is. May this holy season of Lent lead us through the cross of Christ, and not around it, but instead allowing the cross, like a compass, to point us in the direction of the Sunday celebration of the Lord’s resurrection. Let us pray that on the day of final judgment, we too will share in his victory so that when the dust is blown away, we will find ourselves transformed into a new creation and live forever with him the new and heavenly Jerusalem with all the angels and saints. Until that day comes, let us pray for ourselves and each other, that the disciplines and devotions of this holy season will lead us together in this direction.