Ash Wednesday: Reflection from Fr. Andrew Hamilton SJ

CAPSA commemorates Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. On this day, we share a reflection from Fr. Andy Hamilton SJ to mark the significance of today: 

Ash Wednesday is rich in associations with the testing times of our world. In Australia Ash Wednesday is associated most recently with disastrous bushfires and carries also memories of other times of burning in wars and other disasters.  

For Christians it is also the beginning of Lent, a time of focus on Jesus’ life and message beginning with his public life and concluding with his death and rising. Its length of forty days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday echoes the forty years that the Jewish people spent wandering as they left slavery in Egypt and waited for entry into the Promised Land. That time of rescue and preparation was picked up in the forty days that Jesus spent in the desert fasting before beginning his public mission.  Both the forty years and the forty days were times of testing, of focus on what matters and of living it. 

For refugees Ash Wednesday and Lent echo the scorched earth that their own lands had become for them through persecution and war. It also echoes the long and terrible journey that so many have made in leaving their own land, the rejection that they so often faced and the cruelty that they met when seeking protection in Australia and other nations.  

For us Lent is a time to attend to the world around us and to our own lives. It is a time for compassion, for noticing the people seeking protection in our land, for reaching out to them in the community, and for standing with them in seeking a more just world for them. 

Lent also marks an important day for CAPSA and across our community:
The 2024 National Day of Action, Palm Sunday. The last Sunday of Lent and the beginning of the Holy Week, CAPSA will be attending the Walk for Justice and Peace in Melbourne this Palm Sunday 24th March as part of continuing our support and advocacy in the fair and humane treatment of refugees and people seeking asylum.

See details of CAPSA’s attendance here 

Events are held across Australia in all capital cities. For more information on events closest to you, please see here 


Andrew Hamilton SJ is consulting editor of Eureka Street, and writer at Jesuit Social Services