– Wednesday of the 1st Week of Lent –
‘This generation is an evil generation; it asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.’ [Lk 11:29]
That Jonah is the only sign Jesus is prepared to give is surprising. There are two reasons why he does so. The first is that because Jonah was three days in the belly of the sea creature, he is himself a Christ-figure – a prefiguring of the one who would lay three days in death. The second reason is less apparent but more important in this context. Jonah was an ordinary man with an extraordinary mission. He resisted God at every turn. Yet, despite his reluctance, God achieves his plan. Jonah is the sign of God’s patience, but also of God’s relentless focus on achieving the plan of salvation.
At times, we can look at our own lives and wonder whether God’s plan can be achieved in and through us. Our lives can seem small and confined, and what we experience may appear unimportant and ‘ordinary’. Jonah reminds us that even our apparent failure is not enough to thwart God’s plan in the lives of those who love him.
The problem is the things God offers both attract and concern us. We want an easy life…God offers us eternal life in his presence. We want riches…God promises us his Spirit. We want a life free from suffering, and God offers to transform our suffering and give it meaning and purpose.
Lent is the opportunity to see beyond our typical concerns and preoccupations to discover what God is doing and what he is offering. Like Jesus and Jonah, we must go into the wilderness.
By Shane Dwyer