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The Sign Of Jonah

Wednesday in the First Week of Lent

My dear encountered couples:

Both our first reading and second recall the story of Jonah. Though the whale is not mentioned, we are told about God sending Jonah to Nineveh to preach repentance to the people there. He was to tell them, “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed.

Forty days!” Is that just a coincidence? Lent lasts for forty days. Not including the Sundays which are technically not counted as days of Lent, though we call them 1st through the 6th Sundays of Lent, we end up with exactly forty. You can count them off on your calendar when you get home. Is that a sign for us?

Anyhow, the people of Nineveh were given 40 days to repent of their sins or else. Else what? The whole town and all its people would experience a cataclysmic event. We might compare it to hell on earth. What would we do if we were given the ultimatum of only 40 days more and the bomb would drop? Could this be our last Lent? Could this be our last days? Lent is especially for those who do not wish to experience hell on earth nor hell in eternity.

Do I have you scared now? I hope not. But Jonah must have done a good job of it. “The people of Nineveh believed his message from God; they proclaimed a fast, and all of them, great and small (the king included), put on sackcloth and ashes.” The result? “When God saw their spirit of repentance, he did not carry out the punishment he had threatened.

Let us not make a good Lent from fear of punishment like the people of Nineveh. Let us make a good Lent to show our love for God who has already been so very good to us.

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