Wednesday of the First Week of Lent

 A Lenten Renewal:
Reflections on the Mass readings in light of our daily lives
By Mother Marie Julie, SCMC
My Dear Good People, 
At today’s Mass the First Reading and the Gospel are related. In the Gospel (Lk 11:29-32) Jesus says His contemporaries are refusing to listen to His words as they fail to walk in the Ways of God, even as the Ninevites (in the first reading) were far away from God. But at least, He says, at least the Ninevites listened to the message Jonah brought them and repented immediately. Jesus is displeased with the crowds who come to hear Him only looking for signs (proofs) that He is who He says He is, not to hear His message of repentance. He tells them that the Ninevites simply heard God’s warning as it came to them through the prophet Jonah, but He, a greater prophet than Jonah, cannot even convince the people of their sinfulness by His powerful words. I can almost hear Jesus speaking to the crowds through clenched His teeth. He sounds angry, or rather badly disappointed here, much like a parent who is trying to point out the mistakes his children are making, but they won’t listen. Life wasn’t easy for Jesus when He came to earth. And some things never change.
Life wasn’t easy for Jonah, either. He was a prophet who was asked to go to a far country to preach to a reckless bunch of Ninevites who had turned far from God. Something like Jesus being sent to earth to show us the path of righteousness. Except Jonah just couldn’t see himself doing that. 
 Not that, Father! Anything but that! They’ll never believe me. Choose somebody braver, wiser, more experienced. I don’t want to fail. It’s too risky. Nope. I’m going to run away. I’ll see You later….
So, he finds himself for three days in the belly of the whale (therein lies a tale!) where he has time to reconsider and turn back to God. (This story from the Old Testament was a foreshadowing of Jesus who, although fully obedient to the Will of God, would spend time in the belly of the earth before rising and returning to His Father). Jonah was the instrument of the complete conversion to God for the people of Nineveh. His was a circuitous route to obedience, but at the end of the day he was faithful. 
What can we learn from today’s readings?
Perhaps most of the time we are doing our best to remain close to God, and we thank Him for His grace in us. But there may be times when we, too, find ways to hide from God rather than do what He asks of us. I hope none of us will end up in the belly of a big fish in order to find our way back to Him who sits waiting for us to come home. But I do know that God can be very creative in finding ways to show us that our only happiness is in doing what He asks of us. I’m sure you could tell me your story. I could certainly tell you mine….
Fish or no fish, let us pray for the grace to listen to the Word of Jesus and bravely do what He asks. It isn’t always easy to know for certain if the voice we are listening to is the voice of God or the voice of the evil one, or just our own voice trying to choose what we want, after all. We would like a sign (be careful what you ask for!), but maybe it would just be better to live with a heart open to God. It’s really not so hard to be faithful to our God who loves us so tenderly. Just for today, let us join hands and dare to say yes, as Mary did, to all that He asks of us. Tomorrow is another day. We’ll let Jesus worry about Thursday. Wednesday is a good day to be in love with God. No whales for us. Just let ourselves be led by the Spirit of God. It’s a safe way to travel in these uncertain times. 
God bless you on this Lenten journey.
“With Mary, our lives continually proclaim the greatness of the Lord and the joy experienced in rendering service to Him.”

Holy Rule

Make a difference today ~ help us reach those in need!