Lent, which shouldn't be just for Catholics, is a time to receive, bear fruit, and give thanks in the grace of God made available to our lives in the Life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Lent is not a time to be gloomy. It is a time for joy in the Resurrection of our Beloved Jesus.
Yet, it is also a time for honesty in the shadow of the Cross.
Lent is a time to look in the mirror. Particularly in a mirror which reflects the image of a Crucifix right behind us. For only in honest self-reflection, bathed in the Image of Mercy hanging from His Cross, can we truly appreciate the reality of our situation in Life.
For reality is a healthy balance, and some people disdain the necessary repentance, sacrifice, and discipline needed for conversion, seeing it as all too gloomy, seeking only for painless joy; while others only seem to see the gloom, missing out on the Joyful meaning, and means, of suffering detachment from sin in the Risen grace of Jesus.
Yet, without the Cross the Resurrection is a pipe dream. And without the Resurrection, the Cross is only an inhumane torture.
Lent, therefore, is the Joy of the Resurrection, guided by the reality of the crosses we bear in our lives.
The Ninevites, moreover, need both our Joy, and the Cross!
"When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out." Jonah 3:1-10
First of all, God does not commit evil, He only allows it to occur to bring forth a greater good through His Infinite Mercy. Just think of Jesus' Crucifixion as the greatest evil perpetrated on an Innocent person, and, simultaneously, the greatest act of Mercy from God. With this in mind, Lent is a time to repent of personal sin, and a time to share the gospel of God's Mercy.
It is not a time, however, to judge.
For God appreciates the first small move of the human heart towards Him. And like the Prodigal Father, God comes running to His lost son and daughter in the glory of Divine Mercy. We mustn't be an obstacle in judgment, but a conduit in honest prophecy of the Cross of Jesus.
"For you are not pleased with sacrifices; should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it.My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn." Psalm 51:3-4, 12-13, 18-19
Lent can be a season where God creates in us a new heart in the Love of Jesus, a new mind in the Teaching of the Church, and a renewed soul in the Eucharistic spark of the Holy Spirit. Or it can be a season of many dead rituals, leading only to status quo Christianity.
If our ideologies are more important than our faith, we block grace, and merely mimic true Christianity in our rituals. We can never become Jonah for the world if we are in love with the culture of Nineveh! If we insist on being Pro-Choice Catholics, Catholics who disrespect the Church when it comes to contraceptives and gay marriage, we are more in need of Jonah than the Ninevites ever were.
Lent must be a season of decision: Jesus, or the world?
"This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah." Luke 11:29-32
America is worse off than Nineveh ever was. For Nineveh was never blessed with such truth, liberty, and grace. So, in effect, Nineveh never refused the Cross of Jesus Christ. Their guilt was a pre-Cross pagan perversity. Excusable through the grace of the Cross.
But our guilt, American guilt, bathed in the blood of millions of aborted-babies, in the sacrilege of gay 'marriages,' and the perversion of Catholic-Christian Truth (through the media and pop society), particularly when it hurts the hearts and minds of our children, is an all together different matter.
And this is why America needs Jonah--in us--right now!