This weekend is Saturday the 23 and Sunday the 24 January, beginning the 3rd week of Ordinary time.
The choir of Portsmouth Cathedral sing Psalm 42 – Like as the Hart desireth the waterbrooks, so longeth my soul after thee, O God.
Today’s reading is from the Prophet Jonah.
Jonah 3:1-5, 10
The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, ‘Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.’ So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, ‘Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!’ And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.
When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.
The desire to fast is something that wells up from deep within us. The Holy Spirit acts on us so that self-discipline becomes easy and attractive.The ‘trick’ if you like, is not to struggle against our appetites but to acquire a taste for simplicity and austerity.Take a moment to try and locate that taste somewhere in your life right now.
As you get in touch with this taste, this desire, which word best expresses what you need to let go? Clutter?Self-indulgence?Excess?Gluttony?Find the word or image that best expresses this...
Now, as the words of Jonah are read once more, imagine the people of Nineveh as they hear the news of their imminent destruction – notice how they react – see and hear what the people are saying and doing – can you tune into their experience, putting yourself in their place?
Does the desire you have been uncovering want to go somewhere?Maybe it wants to be lived out?Can you do as the people of Nineveh did and turn back into the forgiving, all embracing arms of God?
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.