Ash Wednesday

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In Jesus’ day, the word “hypocrites” didn’t really have any bad connotations. Actually, it just meant an actor in a play. Hypocrite literally means “one who is under a mask”, because actors in Greek plays would always wear masks to show which character they are playing.

But Jesus draws a comparison between these actors and people who say one thing and do another. The person behind the mask doesn’t match up with what the rest of the world sees! The world sees a pious person praying, but the person is just doing it to seek attention. The world sees a generous giver, but their motivation is human praise. Thus, they are actors, hiding behind masks.

Today, you and I will receive a “mask”. We will receive a visible, outward sign that will show to everyone in the world that we are Christian. But are we? Does our forehead say we are followers of Christ, but our life say otherwise?

These ashes are not just some empty custom or “culturally Catholic” thing. They are a tangible sign that we are repenting of our sins and sincerely seeking to love and serve God. Will these ashes become an outward sign of our inward repentance? Or will they just be the mask of a hypocrite?


Photo by Ahna Ziegler on Unsplash / PD-US
Fr. Joseph Gill

Fr. Joseph Gill

Fr. Joseph Gill grew up in a musical family in Frederick, MD, the oldest of five children. His father taught him piano from a young age, and his mother often sang in the church choir. He began writing songs very young, honing his skill further when he received his first guitar. After his conversion, he dedicated his life and his songwriting to the Lord []. Fr. Gill was ordained a Catholic priest in May 2013. He is currently serving at the Basilica of Saint John the Evangelist, Stamford, Connecticut. He shares his homilies at

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