Wednesday, February 29, 2012

There is Something Greater Than Jonah Here

Do you follow the daily readings?  I try to, but it does get away from me, especially when daily Mass is not an option with noisy little ones. Lent is always a good time to make a greater effort to clear out the obstacles that prevent us from hearing the Word of God proclaimed.

 Sometimes the readings are hard to piece together.  I find myself straining to figure out what is being proclaimed in the way the readings have been put together on a particular day.  Today's readings are pretty obviously about hearing a call to repentance and responding with a contrite heart.  Deep and true repentance that opens your eyes and  frees your heart to be healed by the one for whom you were created for.

But it is the Gospel of Luke that causes me to listen and reflect on the other readings.  The Queen of Sheba responds to the wisdom of Solomon by traveling from the ends of the earth, sparing no cost to receive it.  And in this Gospel Jesus says:  "there is something greater than Solomon here."  Can you feel it?  Do those words uttered from the mouth of Christ cause you to take in a quick breath?  Does your soul ache just a little when you hear them?

 The notorious Ninevites immediately respond by donning sackcloth and ashes, by  fasting and mourning at the preaching of a reluctant prophet of God.  Again, Jesus says, "there is something greater than Jonah here."  And again these words seem to reverberate inside me, they call me to react to Jesus in a far deeper way, to repent in a more profound way.  They are ripples in the waters of my soul that could become of tsunami of contrition if I just let them flow and wash away all the soft and fuzzy notions of repentance that I have blindly allowed to accumulate in my heart. They have calcified and hardened my heart over the years.   If you want to grow in love for Jesus, you have to let them go, or you will never, never realize that there is something greater in Him than is contained in all the wisdom of this world, and in all the prophets that have perceived and proclaimed the Word of God.

I don't think this means we should turn overly scrupulous, the two extremes of scrupulosity and presumption on the Lords mercy both block us from realizing that God's mercy is equal to His majesty.  I think that presumption is the more prevalent problem of our time.  I think our image of God is a weak and pathetic one, and so our concept of sin is treacherously myopic.  The Queen of the South will indeed condemn us for having Jesus Himself    on our tongues, yet barely giving up a Sunday to celebrate Him.  Without this, it is terribly hard to recognize sin and how it works like a cancer within our calcified hearts unless it is sincerely repented of.  In fact it may not seem that bad, if we do not recognize the majesty of God first.

So listen to the Gospel again, listen with your imagination.  These words were spoken by the Lord Himself, and they are active.  Feel that aching in your soul, let the ripples become a torrent that can wash away the debris.  Let them break your heart so that you can offer the Lord the sacrifice He desires.  "There is something greater than Jonah here."  

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