“Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Taken out of context, the traditional formula said on Ash Wednesday can sound ridiculous.
We spend countless hours seeking to improve our self image, which is why we shower children with praise, hoping to provide them with a positive self-esteem. Then with one striking blow, the Church undoes all that work. Or do we?
A gentle reminder about humanity’s origin may be the greatest gift of the Lenten season. The Church takes you right back to the beginning. Man is made out of the dust of the earth, and he is nothing until God breathes his spirit into his nostrils (Gen 2:7). You are nothing without God’s Spirit. That is not a put down. It is liberating. You are a jar of clay (2 Cor. 4:7). It is not about you, but what you hold. Like a clay oil lamp, allow yourself to be filled with the Spirit and be set on fire. Then your light will shine for all to see (Mt 5:16). What is it they will see? The light; not the lamp. In a world that puts a lot of pressure on how you look and what you do, the Church reminds you that it is not about you, but what you hold. See, it is good to be dirt.