"Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation." Lk 11:30
When Jonah walked through Nineveh calling the people to repentance, the response was almost immediate. The king instructed everyone, even the animals, to join him in responding to Jonah's prophecy. Together they put on sackcloth and sat in ashes hoping that God would accept their acts of penitence and free them from destruction.
The scriptures are forever reminding us that God always listens and responds to our heartfelt cries. Not only does God lobby Moses to approach Pharaoh and demand the enslaved Hebrews be set free, God also listens to the cries of the poor who he reminds us are always close to him. It should not surprise us, then, that Jesus would be born of poor parents, and like Jonah, would go towards Jerusalem announcing God's desire for our conversion and transformation.
Lent is a time both to walk with Jonah and Jesus, and respond to their cry. Unless we commit ourselves to repent of our sins, our selfishness, our failure to recognize a world bigger than the United States, our desire for a kind of security in things, and money and power that only God can give, we risk admiring Jesus' pronouncements but failing to live them. The gospel of the first Monday of Lent says it clearly: Whatever we do in justice and charity for the least of Jesus' brothers and sisters, we do for him.
Today, listen closely and without fear for Jesus' call to conversion.
What happens to your spirit when you feed the hungry and cloth the naked?