2 Corinthians 5:20b—6:10
Matthew 6:1–6, 16–21
Return to the Lord Your God with All Your Heart, for He Has Reconciled You to Himself
On Ash Wednesday, we come down from the mountain with Jesus and set our face toward His cross and Passion in Jerusalem. We make our pilgrimage with Him by way of repentance, and thus we return to our dying and rising in Holy Baptism. Christ Jesus, “who knew no sin,” became our sin, so that by His death we are released from sin and in His resurrection we “become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). As God has thereby reconciled the world to Himself in Christ, “now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). He has provided the sacrificial Lamb, and He has left “a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering” (Joel 2:14) in the Eucharist. He summons us to return to Him with all our heart because He is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” (Joel 2:13). We do so with faith and confidence in Him, and so we pray to Him as our Father, give to the needy from a heart of love, and fast for the sake of repentance (Matt. 6:3–4, 6, 17–18).