THE SIGN OF REPENTANCE

Meditation for Wednesday of the First Week of Lent
(Jonah 3:1-10; Lk 11:29-32)

Our Lenten meditation today focuses on repentance. We gaze at Jonah with the eyes of faith as he travels down the great city of Nineveh. We can see the seeming reluctance on his face as he preaches with marginal effort, saying only what he was asked to say and nothing more! It is quite obvious that he is merely obeying the command of God since the ‘fish of grace’ had brought him thus far. The great city would take three days to move across, but Jonah is still on the first day, rolling out the rhythm of his message: “Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” Surprisingly, the whole city, with their king and noblemen, from the greatest to the least, declared a fast, put on sackcloth and ashes, and repented of their evil ways. They cried to God to have mercy and spare their lives.

How come Jonah’s mission was so successful? Jesus praised the work of Jonah and wished that people of ‘this generation’ would learn from the people of Nineveh. He described Jonah as a SIGN, which the people saw and repented. Imagine a Jew walking dejectedly along the streets of their enemy city, warning them of the coming doom? The challenges and struggles Jonah stepped on to enter the city, not for his benefit, but in sacrifice for the people, inspired them to listen to him. Why would this Jew risk his life among the Assyrians if God did not send him? Jonah in himself, even without words, became a SIGN OF REPENTANCE for the people of Nineveh! That is why his MESSAGE traveled faster and deeper than his words and footsteps.

“And behold, something greater than Jonah is here.” Jesus is the ultimate sign, who left heaven to dwell among us, dispelling the darkness of sin and bearing the burden of our sins upon Himself (2 Cor 5:21). He is the Word of God, through whom grace and truth are given to us (Jn 1:17), whose blood bleeds more insistently for our salvation (Heb 12:24). But, why are the men and women of ‘this generation’ not seeing the sign of the Messiah and following Him to repentance? This is because they are an evil generation; they are only interested in miraculous signs for their benefit, but they do not care about signs of holiness that announce the presence of God among them. So, even when the greater sign than Jonah is here, they turned blind eyes to it.

Our forty days of Lent are counting…More than the people of Nineveh, we have seen and embraced the SIGN OF REPENTANCE, Jesus Christ. Let us humble ourselves in ashes and sackcloth through fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. We have the testimony of the Blessed Virgin Mary and other men and women in the Bible, the Saints, and the sacrifices of people of goodwill among us today. The sign of their holiness inspires us to repent. May God open our eyes so that we may see the gracious sign through which He draws us to Himself. Amen.

 

Fr Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church,
Tedi-Muwo, Lagos.
Wednesday, February 24th, 2021.
www.nwachinwe.blogspot.com

 

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