The Gospel According to Luke 11:29-32
While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. At the judgment the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation, and she will condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here. 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.”
Reflection: Today’s reflection comes from “Not by Bread Alone 2023” Susan H. Swetnam
This season’s liturgy begins with such uplifting inspiration. When we’re wrapped in Ash Wednesday’s promise, repenting and believing seem so obviously desirable. Filled with idealistic determination, we muster our good intentions, make our vows, plan our steps. Yet its one thing to promise, another to deliver. It’s easy enough to be good for a day or two, but habits take a long time to break.
We may hear ourselves saying, Here I go again, letting God down. I once heard the next step on that slippery slope colorfully affirmed by an old friend in a moment of self-reflection: “It’s too late for me. If there’s a God, I don’t have a bat’s chance, so I might as well do what I want.”
But the story of the Ninevites shines hope into all the dark corners of our pessimism self-doubt, and slip-ups. God takes considerable pains to send Jonah to them, after all, even bending the laws of nature! When they actually listen and responded with repentance, God is quick to relent. So, we do get a “wonder” in today’s scripture, after all, a lesson that defies our human balance-sheet mentality and our deepest insecurities: no matter how often we stumble, no matter how bad we’ve been, it’s never too late to seek God’s mercy.
Action of the Day: If you are already feeling discouraged this Lent, try changing your perspective. Frame this Lenten season not as a time to get everything right, but as a gift from God who longs for you. Imagine yourself among the Ninevites, making a fresh start, assured of God’s love, and mercy.