Wednesday of the First Week of Lent
JON 3: 1-10
PS 51: 3-4, 12-13, 18-19
LK 11: 29-32
Today, in the first reading from John’s gospel, we hear how God speaks to Jonah, telling him to go to the city of Nineveh and announce that Nineveh will be destroyed in forty days. In response to hearing this message, the people of Nineveh began to fast. The King of Nineveh proclaimed to the people that “every man shall turn from his evil way and from the violence he has in hand”. Seeing that his people were making an effort to turn away from evil, God saved them from evil.
This story of John’s gospel truly relates to our own lives, especially during the Lenten season. When the people of Nineveh fasted, the Lord saw their sacrifice and efforts of giving themselves up to God and turning away from evil. The Lenten season is about fasting from what keeps us from God and from what prevents us from seeing Him in our world. When we do this, Christ sees that we want to be closer to Him and has mercy on us. Just as the Ninevites fasted and turned to God, we are called to follow their example and work towards eliminating those things from our lives that pull us away from Christ. In the Responsorial Psalm, we hear, “A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn”. Through fasting, we are able to humble ourselves before God and recognize that our desires need not be focused on the desires we have in this world but focused on the desire to be closer to Christ and more like Him. The gospel reading from Luke reiterates how “at the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here”. The pleasures and desires we have on this earth are not nearly as great as what is in store for us in God’s heavenly kingdom. He is calling us to recognize that what is promised us in life after death is what we should be striving for. Lent helps us to refocus our desires on God.
As you continue throughout the day, keep in mind the example of the people of Nineveh and their steadfast fasting. Offer up a prayer to Christ to have the strength to turn away from evil and to focus your desires on God. During the Lenten season, focus your fast on what can make you more like Christ and what will draw you closer to Him. Replace those earthly desires and practices with other things such as more time devoted to prayer, quite reflection, or simply listening to God in silence. Fasting from these things and filling them instead with time spent in Christ’s presence will allow you to understand and feel Him more in your life during this Lenten season. Peace be with you and God Bless!