Wednesday of the First Week in Lent
(Jonah 3:1-10; Luke 11:29-32)
There was a time within the memory of many living today when most Catholics would eat meat only once a day and fast between meals during the Lent. Of course, they never ate meat on Fridays at that time. The communal Lenten penance provided a sense of solidarity among the people much like what is indicated in today’s first reading.
Although there is no historical record of an Israeli prophet converting Nineveh or even of a city so large that it would take three days to transverse, the narrative from the Book of the Prophet Jonah provides readers with a profound religious truth. It tells them that God expects them to acknowledge not only that they have sinned individually but also that their faults have caused others to sin. As a result there is need that they help one another overcome sinful ways. They should fast and pray together so that God might forgive their sins and bring the nation true peace.
We fast during Lent for various reasons. We want to show remorse for our sins by denying ourselves some pleasures. We also want to show our love for the Lord who has provided us with the goods of creation. We also want to help one another live a life of moderation – very much in need today. Doing so we demonstrate that it is not created things but the Creator who gives our lives permanence and peace.