Lent: Second Chances

March 9, 2022
Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, one line from our readings hit me like a lightening bolt:

The word of the LORD
came to Jonah
a second time.

Jonah 3:1

Yes, it’s the truth! God will keep coming back again and again to encourage us to hear the true message for our lives.

Our Gospel gives us a hint about how resistant we sometimes are to do this deep listening:

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

What is the sign of Jonah anyway?

To put it simply, it is the witness of the Resurrection – that overarching event that changed everything for believers. For just as Jonah was able to return from certain death in the whale’s belly, so Christ conquered death and rose to new life, promising us the same power.

This is the central, life-changing belief for Christians. It should make a difference in how we live.


By our Lenten repentance, we can be like Jonah, grasping the second chance God always gives us to respond to our life circumstances with faith, hope, and love.

I would bet there is something in your life right now that is calling you to such a response. Someplace in your life, you may be caught in a bit of a “whale’s belly 🐳” about some issue, am I right?

God makes us ask ourselves questions most often when He intends to resolve them. He gives us needs that He alone can satisfy, and awakens capacities that He means to fulfill. Any perplexity is liable to be a spiritual gestation, leading to a new birth and a mystical regeneration.

Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas

Today’s readings remind us that we already have the glorious sign of the Resurrection to inspire us to leap from that dark “belly” into God’s hope for us!


Poetry: WE ARE JONAH – Rabbi Rachel Barenblat

In Rabbi Eliezer’s vision
Jonah entered the whale’s mouth
as we enter a synagogue.
Light streamed in through its eyes.
Jonah approached the bimah, the whale’s head.
Show me wonders, he said, as though
his own life weren’t a miracle.

The whale obliged, swimming down
to the foundation stone,
the navel of creation
fixed deep beneath the land.
Tsk tsk, chided the fish:
you’re beneath God’s temple —
you should pray.

Prayer requires stillness.
Running away had always been
so easy. Sitting silent
in self-judgement — forget it!
But waves only churn the surface.
In the deep beneath the deep
Jonah was wholly present.

We all flee
from uncomfortable conversations
the drip of a hospital IV
the truths we don’t want to own
the work we don’t want to do.
Now we’re in the belly of the whale,
someplace deep and strange.

God calls us to awareness:
to stand our ground
in the place where we are,
to do the work which needs doing.
To bring kindness and mercy
even to those who are unlike us.
Are we listening?


Music: a fun song “In the Belly of Whale” – The Newsboys

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