4 March, 2020

Remember your compassion, O Lord, and your merciful love, for they are from of old.

~ Entrance antiphon from today’s Mass ~

Jonah 3:1-10; Psalm 51; Luke 11:29-32

The entrance antiphon today evokes in our minds the age of God. The Lord is “of old.” Images of an ancient God come to mind, existing before time began, and long before any of us came into being. The Creator moving under the cover of darkness is the image in the first chapter of Genesis, the Spirit hovering over the chaos of the waters at the beginning of time.

 

But it focuses on a particular aspect of this God who is “of old”, namely his compassion and merciful love, which is the tender mercy of God and his “loving-kindness”. They are as old as God is.

 

Jonah in today’s first reading could not understand God’s loving- kindness. It was a mystery to him and you can see him struggling with it. Jonah gets sent by God to Nineveh, to preach repentance so the people of Nineveh could change their ways. When Jonah does this and the city responds by repenting, Jonah expresses anger at God for saving the city. When you read his response to God, you get the sense that he is struggling to understand why God would save such a sinful city. Jonah doesn’t want to preach to the people, because he wants to see justice done. He can’t understand why God does not share the same viewpoint!

 

So often like Jonah, we find it difficult to understand the depths of God’s love. When we think of our own lives, perhaps we feel we don’t deserve God’s mercy and forgiveness. Perhaps we feel beyond help and that God would surely reject us if we came to him. But in looking at our Judean-Christian history, we see the nature of God over the centuries, and that God’s mercy is as old as he is. Mercy and loving-kindness has been and continues to be God’s way. Over time we may begin to see our own lives finding a place in the living history of God’s love shown towards his people. Maybe then we can say of our own lives that God has given a light to us in our darkness.

 

Loving God,

 

Reveal your true nature to us.

 

Show us that you are merciful, and show us that our story fits into the history of your kindness shown to the world.

 

Amen.

 

Catholic Parliamentary

Liaison Office

Jesuit Institute
South Africa

This reflection has been adapted from Have Mercy, O Lord! Daily Reflections for Lent by Grant Tungay SJ, Russell Pollitt SJ, Annemarie Paulin-Campbell, Puleng Matsaneng, Anthony Egan SJ and Frances Correia, & published by the Jesuit Institute South Africa in 2016.

Reflection prepared by

Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ

Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ entered the Society of Jesus in 2005 and underwent the usual course of studies in his formation, which took him to such varied places as Canada, France, Ireland, Kenya, Spain, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, the United States, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Matthew manages the background technical aspects of much of the Institute's work and is involved in the Spirituality work whilst completing the Advanced Spiritual Directors Training Course and Spiritual Exercises Training run by the Institute. He is a member of Spiritual Directors International and is also a part-time lecturer in Sacred Scripture at St Augustine College of South Africa.

m.charlesworth@jesuitinstitute.org.za @mcharlesworth
See more from Matthew Charlesworth SJ

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