Ash Wednesday 2024

Published: February 14, 2024

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor preached the following homily at St. John Catholic Center and the Cathedral of St. Andrew, both in Little Rock, on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024.

Bishop Taylor

Why is Ash Wednesday always one of the most well attended liturgies of the year? It certainly isn't an upbeat and cheerful gathering, far from it. Only Good Friday is more somber. Nor is it convenient, always falling of necessity on a workday. And we look worse leaving than when we arrived, a black smudge right in the middle of our forehead. So why do we come? 

We come because we have a hunger deep inside that only the Lord can fill. We have brokenness in our lives —  often the result of our own sin or that of others — that only the Lord can heal. Life may require us to strive for worldly success — at least enough to put bread on the table — but we long to live for something bigger than ourselves, and Jesus opens for us a path to the best that is in us.

The truth that is in us. He reveals to us a truth that resonates deep down: That what we do with our life matters. So, each of us has a choice: Where do we place our allegiance? The kingdom of this world or the Kingdom of God? Even those whom the world judges most successful discover eventually that success without significance is empty.

What we do with our life matters. Each of us has a choice: Where do we place our allegiance? The kingdom of this world or the Kingdom of God?

Indeed many of our most generous donors are people who though very successful in their careers began to ask themselves, "Is that all there is?" And in their subsequent soul-searching they began to look for ways to make a difference in the lives of others, and in so doing, began to grow much closer to God and much happier with themselves than ever before.

In prayer they discovered intimacy. In fasting they found solidarity with the poor. And in almsgiving they found the security that had eluded them all those years when they had clung to their possessions like a security blanket.

So, on Ash Wednesday we rededicate ourselves first and foremost to the Kingdom of God, putting aside our sinful ways with the help of prayer and fasting, and opening our hearts to the poor through almsgiving, fully aware that we will take nothing with us but our good deeds. "We are dust and to dust we shall return."