Wednesday of the First Week of Lent, February 24
Lent Is a Time of Renewal, a Time of Spiritual Spring-Cleaning, in Which God Calls Us to Transform Our Hearts and Our Souls, So That We May Be One with Him in Love.
“‘Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed,’ …the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth” – words which we find in our First Reading today from the Book of the Prophet Jonah.
When confronted with the consequences for their own wickedness, the Ninevites reflected upon the sinful nature of their lives, and embraced an interior transformation which resulted in God relenting in His punishment for their sins.
This interior reflection, this transformation is truly what our Lenten journey is all about – an opportunity for each of us to reflect upon the frailty of our own human nature, an opportunity to make amends for the sins which you and I commit in our lives, enabling each of us to renew our relationship with God – a relationship of love, intimacy and holiness.
If we take the time to research the meaning of the word Lent, we would find that its origins come from the Germanic word for “springtime”. And springtime is such a resonant word, bringing to mind renewal and new life. But springtime also brings to mind the often dreaded task of spring-cleaning. No wonder Lent and springtime are so closely connected!
Like spring, Lent is, in itself, a time of renewal and new life – as well as a time to do some spiritual “spring-cleaning” within ourselves. Lent becomes that perfect opportunity for each of us to take spiritual inventory and clean out those items which clutter our lives and get in the way of our relationship with Jesus Christ.
There are many, however, who dread the task of looking at themselves in a mirror and doing what is necessary for their own spiritual well-being. Others may just turn their back on God’s invitation to holiness and refuse to respond to His invitation of sharing in His Love.
Such was the case with Jonah. As I mentioned once before in a previous meditation, the Book of the Prophet Jonah is only four chapters long and a very easy read. Jonah himself is a complex character, for we find that he was, at best, a reluctant prophet. He tried to run away from God, with some very unfortunate consequences.
Whether we take the story of Jonah and the “great fish” literally or figuratively, it is meant to teach us the greatness of God’s Mercy; it is a story which prepares the way for the redemptive Mercy which Christ made available to each of us, if only we would turn our hearts away from sin as did the people of Nineveh.
Unfortunately, for those who turn their backs on God, they may not be swallowed by a large fish, but the world of secularism can swallow them just as easily, and the darkness which Jonah experienced for three days in the belly of this fish may be nothing compared to the darkness which awaits all those who willfully reject God’s Love and remain unrepentant – a “hellish” darkness which shall last for all eternity!
During this season of Lent, God is calling out to each of us by name, inviting us to open our eyes and our ears through prayerful reflection, so that we may experience the wonderful signs of God’s Love for us and God’s challenge to us in our daily lives, for there truly is “…something greater than Solomon here.” There truly is “…something greater than Jonah here” – as our Lord is telling us in today’s Gospel.
Lent is truly a time of renewal, a time of spiritual spring-cleaning, in which God calls us to transform our hearts and our souls. And the greatest tool we have to accomplish this is the Sacrament of Reconciliation! For it is within this Sacrament that we can come to our Lord openly and honestly, uncovering our sins and receiving His Mercy.
It is also by means of this Sacrament that we can open our hearts and accept Jesus’ healing power, for it transforms the dinginess of our darkened souls into spiritual radiance pleasing in the sight of God and the angels, just as springtime transforms the drab of winter into a newness of life.
Repentance and spiritual transformation allow us to cast off the remnants of our old acts of disobedience, so that Jesus can give us a new heart – a willing and accepting heart that delights in His laws and in His ways.
For each one of us, our interior transformation is so much more than just wearing ashes on Ash Wednesday and acts of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. For we find God truly working within us, in which His grace transforms us as we come to Him truly with “a heart contrite and humbled”.
For each one of us, Lent should become a total process in which we become interiorly changed into the likeness of our Lord and Savior Himself, as we continue to accompany Him on His journey to Calvary and beyond, a journey in which we all share by virtue of our Baptism into the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ!
Now is the time for you and me to open our eyes and examine what our relationship with Jesus is truly all about. It is the time for each of us to open our ears and hear God’s call to us – to live our baptismal promises, to truly live the faith which we profess, to truly love God with our entire heart and soul and with all our strength! – and to truly love each other selflessly, as God loves each of us.
There truly is “…something greater than Jonah here” – for it is Jesus who is truly our Way, our Truth and our Life, and it is only in Him where we find the peace, joy and consolation which our hearts and souls so deeply yearn. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “‘Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed,’ …the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth.” (Jonah 3:4cde)
- “Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love; in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions. Thoroughly wash away my guilt; from my sin cleanse me. For I know my transgressions; my sin is always before me. Against you, you alone have I sinned.” (Psalm 51:3-6a)
- “Turn away your face from my sins; blot out all my iniquities. A clean heart create for me, God; renew within me a steadfast spirit…a contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not scorn.” (Psalm 51:11-12, 19b)
- “My eyes are ever upon the LORD, who frees my feet from the snare. Look upon me, have pity on me, for I am alone and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart; bring me out of my distress. Look upon my affliction and suffering; take away all my sins.” (Psalm 25:15-18)
- “Bring us back to you, LORD, that we may return: renew our days as of old.” (Lamentations 5:21)
- “Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation…there is something greater than Solomon here…there is something greater than Jonah here.” (Luke 11:30, 31c, 32c)
- “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
- “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” (John 14:6)
Prayer for the Day
“God, our Heavenly Father,
during this Lenten season,
nourish me with Your Word of life
and make me one with You in love and prayer.
“Fill my heart with Your Love
and keep me faithful to the Gospel of Christ.
Give me the grace to rise above my human weakness;
and grant me new life by Your Holy Sacraments,
especially Reconciliation and Eucharist.
“Eternal Father, our Source of life,
I reach out with joy to grasp Your hand;
let me walk more readily in Your ways.
Guide me in Your gentle Mercy,
for, left to myself, I cannot hope to fulfill Your will.
“Father of Love, Source of all blessings,
help me to pass from my old life of sin
to the new life of grace and righteousness,
in answer to Your invitation to my soul.
“Prepare me for the glory of Your Kingdom,Anonymous
for I ask all this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”