Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 11:29-32 – 1st WEEK OF LENT: Wednesday, 13 March 209
The story of Jonah reminds us of the Scriptural origin of Lent, the forty days of Penance. The forty days is a time of purification, a time when our closer association with God makes us more worthy of Him and brings us spiritual growth.
Jonah preached repentance with a message from God, “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed.” In the Gospel Jesus praises the citizens of Nineveh for listening to the prophet Jonah. They made use of the forty days which God gave them, forty days in which to repent and save their sinful city. Jesus deplores the lack of faith in His own people, who refuse to follow the example of the Ninevites.
Forty days is a sacred tradition in Holy Scripture. The Lord asked Moses to come up to Him on the mountain. Moses was to prepare himself for receiving the ten commandments for the instruction of his people. Moses stayed on the mountain, in the company of the Lord for forty days.
Elijah fled for his life from the jealous queen, Jezabel, who had promised to send her soldiers to kill him. Elijah came exhausted to the desert, begging God to let him die. But the Lord sent food and water to Elijah, and in the strength of God’s food, Elijah survived forty days and reached the mountain of God.
After His baptism, Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit to the wilderness, where He fasted and prayed for forty days.
The forty days that God has given us for prayer and repentance are sacred and precious and full of meaning. Like the Ninevites, we should thank God for giving us the forty days for our conversion. Forty days of Lent: a chance to repent and come personally close to God, as Moses and Elijah did.
Jakarta, 13 March 2019
A Christian Pilgrim