“There is something greater than Jonah here.” I had a friend in seminary who used to remark that the people of ancient Israel wandering through the desert had a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. How could they possibly go wrong, he would ask, when they had incredible signs like that? The same sentiment comes down to us in our own day. We have something greater than the pillars of cloud and fire, we have something greater than Jonah, we have Jesus Christ our Savior, who lived a life of servant leadership and died for our sins, putting aside all his own ambitions and glory. You’d think that would be all we needed to avoid a life of sin.
Yet who of us doesn’t struggle with sin at times? Whether they be rude and nagging, or even impure thoughts, or even sin that translates into action, we all have to deal with being tempted by the world and giving in. All this with the greatest sign of all – the sign of the Cross – present in so many ways in our homes and in our Church.
But if the sign of Jonah means anything, it means we have the opportunity to repent. Lent is that time of second chances, of seeing our sin and confessing God’s greatness, of reforming our lives and repenting of our evil thoughts and deeds. We have this beautiful forty day retreat to examine our lives, to turn away from our sins and turn toward our God. The only thing that is really unforgivable is the desire not to turn back to God, and then only because we do not wish to be forgiven.
Deliver us, Lord, from every evil, and grant us peace in our day. In your mercy keep us free from sin.