Jon 3:1-10 The Ninevites hear Jonah’s message and repent. Their king proclaims a time of repentance. Jonah, the reluctant prophet, will resent God’s mercy toward them. Unlike Jonah, we know that our God is always merciful and compassionate. God is nonviolent, in spite of Old Testament anthropomorphisms. He sends prophets to call us to justice and mercy. We are to be compassionate as God is compassionate. We just have to turn to God and we will be saved. We will be healed. We will be made whole. We need to break out the sackcloth and ashes and turn toward God.
Lk 11:29-32 The people are looking for a sign. They want proof that Jesus is who he says he is. They are not unlike us. When we seek God and encounter darkness and emptiness, we want signs—signs that God is present to us and acting for us. Jesus calls us to deep faith. Jesus calls us to go beyond signs and convincing evidence. Jesus calls us to peel back the layers and find God in the most ordinary things. Jesus is greater than Solomon. The queen of the south will condemn us because we miss the wisdom message of Jesus. The Ninevites will condemn us because we fail to repent when we hear Jesus’ message.
Thomas Merton heard Jesus’ message loud and clear. He repented. He fled to the solitude of Gethsemani only to realize that he was still one with all people. He was still very much in solidarity with the world. Immersed in prayer, contemplation and writing, Merton called an evil and adulterous generation to repentance. He called upon us to repent of the sins of consumerism,. racism, militarism, and nuclear deterrence.
Forty years later we still have not repented. We eschew nonviolence and resort to security measures. We fail to believe that our only security is in the nonviolent love of Jesus. We need to repent at the preaching of Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, Daniel Berrigan, Franz Jagerstatter, Hildegaard Goss Mayr, Ernesto and Fernando Cardenal and Oscar Romero. What a cloud of witnesses to God’s nonviolence and mercy!
In the Office of Readings, Bishop Aphraates reminds us that Jeremiah called upon us to circumcise our hearts. Our hearts are circumcised by the two-edged sword which is the word of God. God has spoken to us through these modern day Jeremiahs. We need to repent, don sackcloth, and listen to the word of God they proclaim so that our hearts may be circumcised. We need to repent of consumerism, racism, militarism, sexism, nuclearism (Sorry GWB), and classism. We are all sons and daughters of the Living God.