Ash Wednesday, Year B South Sydney Uniting Church February 14, 2018
Matthew 6:1-6; 16-21
“… don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing …” It’s about charity performed in secret, in confidence – without boasting or keeping score.
It’s also about a certain reward. We might call it a coming to oneself, even a coming home (to God, in God).
I’m reminded of what Paul Ricoeur says about becoming oneself. “The shortest route from self to self is through the other.” In dialogue with the other person (a writer/evangelist, a partner or stranger, the Messiah), I come home to myself, eventually.
In conversation with another, I travel through another world. I am “de-worlded” as I take this detour through the imagination of the other person, the world of the other person. And I come back to myself in some sense amplified and enriched by that journey through otherness (Richard Kearney).
Ashes symbolise this experience of being de-worlded – the acceptance of being de-worlded.
I do not possess the truth (by virtue of ego, reason, culture, gender, birth or birth order) without going out on a (trinitarian) journey – from myself, through the other to oneself – without risking love.
It’s appropriate today that we receive the sign of the cross in ashes upon one hand. I do not complete myself. I chance my arm. I offer my hand … in friendship … in faith, hope and love. Amen.