March 13 - Fasting and Free Will
Mar 12, 2019
Scriptures: Jonah was asked by God to go to the city of Nineveh to call for repentance. Jonah did not want to go, he did not want to help those people. So he literally took a boat sailing in the opposite direction. As we saw in yesterday's scripture, God's commands and God's words don't return to him empty. Jonah discovered this the hard way as he was tossed overboard in the stormy sea and was swallowed by a great fish where he languished for three days. The fish deposited him on the shore close in order for him to go to Nineveh. When he preached repentance the entire nation heeded and put on sackcloth and put ashes on their foreheads. They began to repent through fasting and prayer and the city was saved from God's wrath. By his own story the people of Nineveh saw that God was not someone to be ignored and when God is calling for the destruction of your city, he should not be ignored. Jesus offered to the people of his time the "Sign of Jonah," where he would not enter the belly of a fish for three days, but rather the belly of the tomb. It is plausible that a man may manage to survive inside of a giant fish (but not really), it is even less plausible that someone should be dead for three days and come back (especially considering the type of death and the lance to the heart). So when Jesus rose on Easter morning it was the greatest of all signs that God delivers in his promises and commands. So when we are called to repent and believe in the Gospel, we ought to take heed.
Core Faith Principle: Not only is the Sign of Jonah the most powerful of Jesus' signs (his Resurrection), it is also a sign that each and every Catholic participates in. When someone is baptized they are plunged under water three times which represents going into death and rising to new life. Our Baptism is a sacrament of repentance where we present ourselves for the forgiveness of all sins and invite the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. The blessing of being Baptized as an infant is that you didn't have to live apart from the special graces of the Holy Spirit within us. However, the downside of this is that the significance of our Baptism has to be learned in retrospect. It is important to realize that the key to entering Baptism is to "turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel" (words of Ash Wednesday). Each day of our lives we should continue this practice.
Living this at Home: Our religious education project this year, using our mini-retreats, attempted to celebrate the family life of faith. There are two ideas that come to mind to put today's readings into practice. First, it would be to find a prominent place in the home to display pictures of our baptisms during the season of Lent. If this becomes a Lenten practice, it will help the kids (and family) understand that repentance and turning away from sin is to prepare us to better live the life of faith (given to us at Baptism). It will help to explain "why we give things up for Lent." The second idea is to spend some time reading bible stories as a family. Let them here the word of God and let God's word multiply itself in the hearts of your family members. If you would like a book of children's bible stories, please let me know, I have several that I can lend.