Thursday, March 17, 2011

The "Universal" Call To Repentance and Transformation

When we think about Lent as a season of deepened reflection on our lives and the penance that we practice to align our lives more along the lines of Jesus' legacy of love and self-sacrifice, we usually frame the season and "penitential practices" (fasting, almsgiving, abstinence) in very personal terms. In doing so, we may inadvertently forget that the Gospel call to repentance and transformation applies to every nook and cranny of existence, to every area of our world, personal, interpersonal, cultural, social, political, and, even societal.

Wednesday's first reading from Mass serves as a reminder that we are called to work for the transformation of all areas of our society and world. The reading tells the story of Jonah, a jewish prophet sent to the pagan town of Ninevah to proclaim that impending doom will be upon them unless they essentially change their lives on a dime (Jonah 3:1-10). And, you know what, THEY DO! From the King all the way down to the normal, every day citizen, they proclaim a fast and respond favorably to Jonah's message! This reading serves as an illustration that God's call to repentance and transformation is "universal" in that it applies to all areas of existence. Furthermore, when change and transformation occur at the level of society, it creates an environment that makes it much easier to makes changes at the personal and interpersonal level. In the age of the internet, when we can come into contact with so many organizations striving to change our society, it takes very little to join one or more, and, like Jonah, call our society to the repentance and transformation that is needed in order to make more space for the Kingdom of God. Pat, TOR