Another chance, another opportunity…it never stops with God…
Jesus’ debate with the crowd following the exorcism of the demon that made a man mute (11:14-16) continues. Jesus was reaching out to people outside Jewish borders. If you are the Messiah, you should be concerned only with us. They demand a sign from heaven! Instead of giving them a sign, Jesus reminds them of the story of Jonah.
First day into Jonah’s (must I say, ‘reluctant’) preaching and everyone believes, proclaim a fast and repent, yes even the king! They repent and God relents…he doesn’t destroy. He forgives. How powerful! Much to his dislike, Jonah was a sign of God’s inexhaustible mercy to the Ninevites…the outsiders.
Each year as we enter into the season of Lent, we are invited to ponder on the mercy and compassion of God for us. This is a season of Grace. The call to repentance is a call to look at everything in a new light. Lent reminds us that our God is a God of life and not of death. It reminds us that if we truly believe and repent, God embraces us in the warmth of his mercy and compassion.
It’s not easy to be forgiving and loving to people who have wronged us. It’s difficult to reach out…to take that first step. God’s compassion for us is a bitter-sweet reminder to be compassionate to people in our lives. For sure, we carry a little bit of Jonah in us!
Fr. Bruno D’Souza, CP, is on the staff at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.