GOD’S WORD FOR THE DAY -8TH MARCH 2017
GOD’S WORD FOR THE DAY (based on Catholic Liturgical Readings)
DATE: 8TH MARCH 2017
WEDNESDAY OF THE FIRST WEEK OF LENT
FIRST READING: Jonah 3:1-10
PSALM: Psalm 51:3-4, 12-13, 18-19
GOSPEL: Luke 11:29-32
THEME: EVIDENCE OF REPENTANCE
A person with evidence has no need of fidgeting before a judge. An evidence is an unequivocal sign that furnishes proof. In a similar vain, when a person is going through the process of repentance, there are clear signs. A change of heart shows forth in a change of action, and with such evidence, the favour of God comes to rest upon a person.
The prophet Jonah appeared in the city of Nineveh with a message, “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed” (Jonah 3:4). The response was massive. From the greatest of them to the least, there was evidence of repentance and faith in God in the whole city. Of particular significance is the action of the King. We read, “He arose from his throne, removed his robe, and covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes” (Jon. 3:6). His action was an outward expression of an inward shift from self-centeredness to God-centeredness. The text then adds, “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented about the disaster which he had threatened to bring on them, and did not bring it” (Jon. 3:10).
Jesus in our Gospel text makes reference to the attitude of the Ninevites when he says, “The men of Nineveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here” (Lk. 11:32).
The season of Lent is a means to an end; the end is repentance. If my fasting, praying and almsgiving do not bring about a change of heart in me, then they are empty spiritual exercises that weaken rather than strenghten.
There is always the temptation to reduce the Season of Lent to a ‘spiritual swimming pool’. We splash in it for forty days, after which we put on our old dress and go back to our old way of life. Celebration of Lent in such manner brings no renewal and growth, and that would explain why some people are marking their 25th or 50th anniversary of the celebration of Lent this year, with perhaps no evidence of a changed lifestyle.
We can choose to go through Lent or allow Lent to go through us. The former brings no change; the later brings transformation. Now is the time to rise up from our ‘thrones’ of self-importance and self-centeredness and humble ourselves in ‘ashes and sackcloth’ of repentance. May we come out of the season of Lent renewed and transformed forever and not just for a short period of time.
PRAYER: Come Holy Spirit! Cause a renewal in my heart and change me so that my life may be a sweet-smelling fragrance in the presence of the Father. Amen
Andrews Obeng, svd
DIVINE WORD MISSIONARIES
BIBLICAL PASTORAL MINISTRY
“May the darkness of sin and the night of unbelief vanish before the light of the Word and the Spirit of grace. And may the heart of Jesus live in the hearts of all people” (St. Arnold Janssen).