Reflection on the Daily Readings for 3/04/09 by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM

Today’s Readings

Scripture: Wed. of First Week in Lent.  Jonah 3:1-10. Psalm
51:3-4.12-13.18-19. Luke 11:29-32. Lectionary # 227:

"At the preaching of Jonah they (the Ninevites) reformed, but you
have a greater than Jonah here." Luke has Jesus saying this to us today.
He helps us see why the liturgy joined the prophet Jonah to our reading
thus showing us how intimately bound up are the New Testament passages with
those of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament. The Church Fathers and
Mothers never separated the two as many did before Vatican II.  Now we have
the joy of hearing many of the books of the Hebrew Scriptures which help us
to have a fuller and bigger picture of what is being said in the Gospels.

In the first reading we discover that God does not carry out a severe
judgment against the Ninevites because they listened to the prophet Jonah
and then did penance for theirs sins while imploring God to spare them and
their great city.  They repented in sackcloth and ashes.  Jonah was not
happy about this for he wanted to see them experience the wrath of God and
God's overwhelming judgment.  He was displeased but God was not for God was
very pleased with the repentance of the Ninvevites.  Jonah's image of God
was too small.  He wanted to control God who is merciful and forgiving to
all generations for we are all God's people.

Jesus is the best image for us for seeing who God is. Jesus came not
for those who are righteous but for those who are sinners like the
Ninevites.  Jesus shows us the bigger picture and the magnanimous quality
of the image of God he has while preaching, teaching, and healing.  We need
to see this type of an image of God in order to respond in love to our
Creator and our Redeemer.  Jesus image of God is not small like that of
Jonah.  God is compassionate, loving, and forgiving  to us when we are
humble and contrite.  It is, after all, a question of proper habits of the
heart, our heart.  We are simply to open them to the loving-kindness of God
and ask for forgiveness. It will be given. "Forgive us our trespasses as we
forgive those who trespass against us."  We prayed this yesterday and do so
every day.

In the Catholic Commentary called the Jerome Biblical Commentary,
this brief paragraph is an excellent summary of what Jesus is telling us in
the excerpt from Luke's Gospel: "Luke now describes another sign of hearing
the word of God with compunction.  Jesus' opponents think of a sign simply
in terms of a miracle; he, however, speaks of a sign as a way  of
salvation, which eventually, like the cross, leads to an external wondrous
transformation."  This is what Lent is all about.  Amen.