The first reading (Joel) for Ash Wednesday has a vivid image – rend your hearts, not your garments. The Gospel (Matthew) warns us not to do good things in order to be seen doing good things. The focus? It's what’s going on inside.
One of the things that makes Ash Wednesday different from every other Wednesday is the ashes. On your head, in the form of a cross. It’s a powerful outward sign.
And one that can seem to conflict with readings that focus on what’s going on inside. But it really doesn't. Because what we do with our bodies impacts our souls.
And that’s the “why” behind the ashes - to help us get started on the inside by giving us a push on the outside.
And I could use the push.