March 13, 2019
When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in the ashes. (Jonah 3:1-10)
If you are familiar with the Book of the prophet Jonah, you know that the actions of the king of Nineveh, and that of his subjects, saved the kingdom from destruction. They recognized their own sinfulness and repented of their evil ways.
In a bit less dramatic fashion, that is what we should be doing during Lent. Sackcloth and ashes may be overkill, but certainly spending time reflecting on how we live our lives is in order, as is seeking forgiveness for our transgressions.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation offers us the opportunity to set things right with God; but Lent calls us to do more. If we go to confession and then go right back to our sinful habits, we have not understood the goal of Lent. We also need to consider how we might live our lives differently. What can we do to stay away from the occasion of sin? What changes can we make in our lives?
As for forgiveness, reconciling with God is a great start. However, if my confession was about how I have hurt someone, do I need to set things right with that person as well? Humbling myself to both God and those we have hurt is needed.
Wearing sackcloth and sitting in ashes, without true reconciliation and a commitment to change, will just make us itchy and dirty.