Intention (Ash Wednesday)

Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment.  But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”  This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it. (John 12: 3-6)

In olden days, the Lenten fast was quite strict, but in our times, we can pick and choose our fasts and disciplines. I try to choose, and counsel my children to choose, a fast that will remove some obstacle to loving Jesus better, or a discipline that will bring us closer to him either directly or via service to the Christ in those around us.  But sometimes, there is another motive.  A fast from sweets in order to lose weight rather than increase in prayer, for example, or a fast from spending in hopes of getting the budget under control rather than increasing our gifts to the poor.

Mary’s heart was turned toward Heaven; Judas had his eyes set on the world.

What about us? Do we enter this Lent with our souls turned toward God or with more temporal motivations?