What would Jesus say about wearing ashes on your forehead to represent
His death? Would he suggest that we include the ashes of all
those who have suffered to protect the innocent, and not just single
Him out? Find out.
Wednesday, February 25,
2004—Ground Zero Plus 896
Ash Wednesday--The Sign Of Sentinels of Vigilance
GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Feb 25, 2004 -- Throughout the world,
every religion has some form of atonement, some ritual of admitting
the failure of the human quest for perfection. Ash Wednesday is
one of those days.
is a day of 'self inventory'
It is about admitting our hubris, our fatal flaws as human beings
versus the perfection of gods or God who are, by their nature,
flawless. Those who wear ashes on their foreheads today are
reminding themselves and the world they aren't "God," but mere mortals
who trip and fall and get up and trip and fall.
Oedipus was self inflicted blindness
The ancient Greeks
wrote many plays about the human being trying to "play God," and the
price one paid for it. The atonement for such "sins" was
brutal--in Oedipus' case, he stabbed out his eyes and wandered
plays reveal the false quest of humans to abuse their power and
transcend their frailties, only to fumble and fall from grace and
wallow in the quagmire of human frailty as illustrated in MacBeth or
Ash Wednesday, is when one-third of the world's 6 billion population,
will start the process of atoning for their sins. These
Christians will, if they follow the tenants of Christianity, seek
forgiveness through sacrifice. And, they will smear
ashes on their foreheads as a symbol of their mortality, a reminder
that from the dust they came and unto the dust they will return.
They will sacrifice their right to "be God" by disenfranchising their
egos from the goal of immortality.
Ash Wednesday launches a long road toward the absolution for sins,
such traditional ceremonies aren't the privy of Christianity.
Yom Kipper, in the Jewish tradition, is about atoning for one's sins.
It is about finding ways to improve upon character defects while
admitting one's fallibility.
American Indians call upon the Great Spirit to "give them strength"
and to make them accountable for any violations to nature or others.
They must ask permission to kill creatures for food, a form of respect
given to the harmony of all things that are connected, and, when
failing to do so, must repair the damage through atonement.
In "real life" we face the same process of "paying for our sins."
The expression, "He who lives by the sword dies by the sword," means
what it says. Another expression: "You get back what
you sow," implies if you are mean and cruel and selfish to others
you'll bet back the same in kind.
Redemption. Resurrection. Renewal.
Rebirth. Renovation. These are some of the
countless words that suggest the evolving human being must take time
out to measure his or her moral character. In other
words, at some point human beings need to check their selflessness
against their selfishness; they must gauge the degree of taking from
others versus giving back.
This can be as easy as counting the number of times one says "Please,"
or "Thank You," in a day, for those simple words, "Please" and "Thank
You" only suggest an awareness that gifts are given and taken, and
that you recognizing their fluidity.
view of Ash Wednesday is that ashes on the foreheads are symbolic
ever sacrificed their lives for others
Ash Wednesday is also a day to remember those who "died for us."
Christians might argue that putting ashes on their forehead is solely
to remind themselves that Jesus died "for all our sins," but a more
global view would include that ashes on the foreheads are symbolic of
all who have ever sacrificed their lives for others.
It is doubtful if Jesus were the loving, selfless incarnation of God,
that he would singularly take credit for his suffering and elevate it
above all others who gave their lives for their families, friends,
Throughout history are pages of sufferings humans have endured in
defense of their beliefs. Human beings have given
their lives for others since the dawn of time.
Take the mother who suffers through a terrible, brutal relationship to
protect her children's welfare. She endures the suffering
to buffer her children. She "dies" many deaths so others
Should we wear her ashes of "sacrifice" when we honor the death of
Did those who
died on Nine Eleven sacrifice their lives for others?
What about those who died in the attacks of September 11, 2001?
Did they sacrifice their lives for others? Was their
death a symbol not unlike the crucifixion of Christ? Did
they suffer so others might live free of Terrorism?
Does anyone who sacrifices himself or herself for others deserve some
degree of recognition equal to but not greater than what more than 2
billion Christians will offer Jesus today?
Again, it would appear that Jesus would be slightly embarrassed to
accept all the accolades for His suffering, when he was aware of how
many suffered greater or lesser degrees of mortal pain for others
I suspect Jesus would want to mix the ashes of all who gave themselves
He might call these people, Sentinels of Vigilance. He
might say these people died fighting the Beast of Terror, and that
their Courage, Conviction and Right Actions that benefited the
Children's Children's Children was the highest level of service to
A Family of
Giving one's self to protect the rights of others, especially the
innocent, and the future children, must be a great
I wonder if the ashes worn on Ash Wednesday are reminders of our need
to become Sentinels of Vigilance, Parents of Vigilance, Citizens of
Vigilance--people willing to face the Beast of Terror and protect the
innocent from his wrath?
I will see those wearing the ashes today as Pledges of Vigilance.
They will be, as Jesus was, Sentinels not Victims of Vigilance.