“WHY SMEAR OURSELVES WITH ASHES?” (Mt 6:1-6, 16-18): 06 February 2008 (Ash Wednesday)
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter—later made into a movie starring Demi Moore—opens with the leading character, Hester, being led to the scaffold where she is to be publicly humiliated for committing the sin of adultery. There she is forced to wear the letter “A” on her gown at all times as a sign of her sin. By wearing this letter, she is identified and labeled as a sinner. By wearing this label of her sin, she is ostracized and excluded from society.