Wednesday of the First Week in Lent

When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out.

The Book of the Prophet Jonah is actually a comedy, a parody about the incredibly successful prophet who never wanted success. In fact he tried his mightiest to fail at the project God laid upon him – which just goes to show that God’s way cannot fail no matter how hard we try. As they say in the hospital, despite the doctor’s best efforts, the patient recovered.

I am struck by the humor of God’s repenting: “he repented of the evil that he had threatened…” It seems everyone is getting in on the act. But, as we enter the season of lent, I wonder what is repentance.

In the Book of Jonah repentance is reversing one’s intentions. God decides not to level Nineveh. Jonah goes to Nineveh. At the king’s command, the people cease doing evil and turn to God for mercy along with all their cattle, sheep, goats, cats and dogs. 

Humor is an element of repentance. After the shame, grief, guilt and confusion of the penitential process have passed, one is left with a sense of humor. Some of the happiest people I’ve ever met, and some of the funniest conversations I’ve ever enjoyed, were among recovering alcoholics.

George Bernard Shaw once said, "If you want to change people, make them laugh." The Jewish author of Jonah knew that. 

After it’s all said and done I say, “I am not God. thank God!” I don’t have to be right all the time, or courageous, or generous or patient or compassionate or powerful. I was not sent to save the church or the world; I cannot even save my self.

I met a young sister – there are a few in the world – who told me, “When I was twenty I was going to save the world. When I was thirty, I was determined to save my sisters in the convent. Now that I am forty, I am trying only to save myself.”
I said, “You’re almost there.”


Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner. 

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