Wednesday of the first week of Lent
The readings for the day can be found here.
“Have mercy on me, God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offenses. A clean heart create for me, O God and a steadfast spirit renew within me.” (Psalm 51: 3 ff.)
As I read today’s first reading, I first thought of the story of Jonah’s first call (Jonah1:1-3) and the reality that he turned and ran the other way. Is there a part of Jonah in each of us? Like Jonah how have you found yourself running, turning a deaf ear and running the other way and more often than not found yourself in deep waters — treading to stay afloat.
During Lent, we are called to a deeper awareness of our sins and to repentance and conversion so that we might respond to God’s daily call. Jonah listened when “the word of the Lord came … a second time.” (1 Jon 3:1) Jonah set out to follow his call. He was able to hear and trust he was not sent out alone in what he was being asked to do. He probably had questions about how he would be received and would the people change. Remember, Jonah was not only forgiven for not responding to God’s first call and invitation; he forgave himself and opened himself to respond to the second call from God. The people of Nineveh responded to what they heard – they opened their ears to the preaching of Jonah. Through sacrifice and prayer they responded to what they heard and repented. They gave up their evil ways and God showed favor and blessed them for listening.
In Luke (11:29-32) we hear that Jonah became “a sign to the Ninevites,” as Jesus is a sign of hope for all of us. We need, however to listen, to open our hearts to hear what we are called to be and do as we grow in our ability to hear and respond to the call of God.
As we journey in faith and trust during this Lenten season, what is my call. Is there something that needs to be forgiven so that we can respond to the call of God with forgiving hearts? Think for a moment are there signs of God’s presence and call all around that we miss? Am I moving too fast to hear or see the signs, the call of God? Spend a few moments now and each day to listen and pray for “a clean heart.” Rather than dodging the journey we are called to, live the questions. What is it that gets in the way of listening? What am I being called to in my spiritual life? What is it that needs healing in my life and what can I learn from Jonah and the Ninevites? Remember: Sit, Relax, Listen and Live.