Just as the Ninevites in today’s First Reading, Lent is a time when all Christians consider Our Lord’s call for repentance and conversion and consider the path they’ve taken in life. The Ninevites believed the Lord’s warning of destruction; he didn’t exhort repentance, but gave them forty days to figure that out, and they did. Our Lord in today’s Gospel, faced with the incredulity of the crowds, takes them to task for not just rejecting a prophet’s warning, but a warning from God the Son himself. Our Lord warns us that amidst all the “career options” and “lifestyle choices” there is really one path to take. People speak of the road to Hell, but there is only one true road that goes anywhere: the road toward being with God forever that we call Heaven. It’s a road where following the right vocation and making the right choices leads us. If we turn away from that road we’re lost and may contribute to others being led astray as well.
That thought would be fatalistic if we didn’t remember the point of arrival: a fulfilled and content life in communion with God, a rest from all our labors. In short, true and lasting happiness. Repentance and conversion are not just to make life more miserable or to cramp our lifestyle; they’re the way to get back on track and take the only road and the only lifestyle that truly matters: in imitation of Christ and in communion with God and with others. Otherwise, we won’t go the distance.
Nineveh received a forty day grace period to figure it out; these days of Lent remind us that our whole life is a grace period to find and follow the right road. Let’s use this grace period to recover and foster a life of grace so that when it expires we’re not faced with a dead end or lost along the way. The choice is ours.
Fr. Nikola Derpich, L.C., S.Th.D. divides his time between teaching theology at the Pontifical University “Regina Apostolorum” in Rome, Italy, serving as a parochial vicar at St. Brendan the Navigator parish in Cumming, GA, contributing to RC Spirituality Center as an author and online classroom manager, and posting a daily reflection on the day’s liturgical readings on social media.