Congratulations if you are reading this you have made a sixth of the way through the Bible! Yes! one-sixth!
When you use these tassels, the sight of the cord will remind you of all the commandments of the Lord and you will do them, without prostituting yourself going after the desires of your hearts and your eyes..” – Numbers 15:39
The tassels were worn by all pious Jews, including Jesus. As the above quote says, it was to remind the people of God’s commandments, and keep them from following after the desires of their hearts and eyes. Unfortunately, what often occurs with religious objects – be it tassels, crucifix, scapular, etc. – they lose their value as a reminder of the higher things of God when the wearer confuses the sign as a projection of their own holiness and spiritual life.
Jesus warned of this:
But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments (Matthew 23:5).
Are external signs of one’s faith a bad thing? Of course not. However Jesus cautions us to be wary of our reason for wearing them. They can be very useful if our intent is to be reminded often of heaven; not to wear them as though we already arrived.
And today, when we are signed visibly with ashes, and told that ‘We are dust. and to dust we will return.” This should be a humbling notion. As we go about our day and accidentally scratch our forehead only to have a big smudge on our hand, let us come back to repeat the words we heard, “We are dust!” Nothing to be proud of; but just a reminder of our unworthiness of the Kingdom, yet we can carry the hope in our hearts that God in His great mercy will welcome us, as we open ourselves to Him in sincere repentance.