By Lindsay Schlegel
“Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”
And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.” ~ Jonah 3:4-5
“There are more of us than it seems,” a friend said as we discussed schooling, politics, and our families. By “us,” she meant believers in Christ. The hope I feel reading today’s First Reading makes me think she’s right.
Don’t Believe Everything You Read
The media portrays convictions contrary to the Catholic faith as gaining steam and posits that ancient institutions such as the Church have seen their day. Sometimes, like when I hear about the curriculum being pushed in my state’s public schools, I’m tempted to believe they’re right.
If Jonah marched through my town right now, would everyone drop to their knees in repentance? No, but I’m certain there would be more folks ready to don sackcloth than the powers that be would like me to believe.
Believe in Who Shows Up
It’s encouraging to see people in the pews on Ash Wednesday, despite the day not being a holy day of obligation. What I find even more encouraging is the increase in daily Mass numbers at my parish every Lent. The people who return every Friday to pray the Stations of the Cross. The longer lines for Confession on Saturday afternoons.
Not everyone who comes for ashes will return for the more challenging prayers that happen in weeks two, three, and four of Lent. But some will. Maybe more than we think. Perhaps those who we wouldn’t think.
This Lent, let’s pray for each other to grow in holiness, for hearts open to the movement of God without our judgment or internal commentary worked in. By living a deeper, more sacrificial, and holier Lent, perhaps we can draw out some of those who feel uncertain, cowed by the false idea that they are alone in what—and Who—they believe.
Dear Jesus, our hearts and those of our brothers and sisters are known to You alone. Help us to grow in holiness today by guiding us to the sacrifices that will draw us closer to You. Amen.
Call to Action
Today, pray throughout the day for someone who is without faith to come to know Jesus. It could be someone you know, or you might ask the Holy Spirit to take your prayer to that soul who needs it most.
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