Wednesday of the First Week of Lent
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While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation.
Why is this an evil generation? It might all have to do with our inability to accept annoyances. I for one have a hard time accepting annoying people. I have never given it much thought I may be one of them.
I have an especially difficult time dealing with annoying people when I am having an annoying day. What helps me snap out of it is imagining how it must feel for God to deal with the human race! How annoying is that! I shouldn’t say that! It’s not so much with the human race He is annoyed with but with certain human beings: in particular the prideful, powerful, wealthy and successful.
“Cast me not out from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me” (Ps 51:11).
Jonah and the Ninevites. Have you ever wondered why in the story of Jonah there is no mention of a whale? It’s because it is not essential to the telling of the story. A similar case is found in the story of Adam and Eve. There is no mention of an apple. Jonah was swallowed up by a fish. Adam and Eve took a bit out of some low hanging fruit. The intentions of these marvelous writers are absolutely clear: there is a moral to these stories.
What really swallowed up Jonah was something bigger than his life: his pride. It captured him wholeheartedly and it eventually imprisoned him, physically. First, he refused to warn the citizens of Nineveh of their impending doom. Next, he preferred to flee rather than to face God. Finally, he preferred death to service.
In summary, Jonah preferred himself to others; inaction to failure; death to service.
Pride can do this to us. It can make everyone and everything seem so annoying.
As the story goes, “The Word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time.”
Scene One. Take Two. Lent is all about doing a retake. It means acknowledging our mistakes, asking for forgiveness and committing ourselves to do it right, even the second time around. It means turning from our ways and following The Way, The Truth and The Life. It means noticing the elephant in the studio: “There is someone greater than Jonah here.”
“A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn” (Ps. 51:19b).
That’s a take! Amen to that! (0)
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