Bishop Anthony B. Taylor delivered this homily on Ash Wednesday, March 6.
The human body is mostly water. Cremate it and all that’s left is a small box of ashes, and even that little bit is soon gone.
Earth is just a tiny speck in the universe and we’re just a tiny speck on this planet. Every one of the billion stars in the night sky is another sun, many with their own planets and possibly their own forms of life. From the perspective of the universe, there really isn’t all that much to our solar system, and one day our sun will be extinguished and with it all life on earth.
If all time since the Big Bang were collapsed into a single year, scientist say that our planet has about five more minutes to go. But not to worry: we won’t be here. Individually we have only about one 10-billionth of a nanosecond left to go.
Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. Dust that will die, on a planet doomed to extinction, orbiting a sun that will one day be no more.
And yet God who is bigger than the entire universe and more powerful than the Big Bang, he who created the universe and caused the Big Bang, this God has intervened to save us from final death and make our brief moment of existence eternal.
Of course, we can always reject his salvation and suffer the consequences, return to the dust never to return to life again. But he wants to establish a relationship with us that will endure beyond the grave — and now he awaits our response, and not just with words but with actions.
So return to the Lord with your whole heart, with prayer and fasting and works of charity. Rend your hearts, not your garments and return to the Lord your God.
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