Homily for Wednesday of the 1st Week of Lent Year A
Theme: THE SIGN OF JONAH!
By: Fr. Ben Agbo
Homily for Wednesday March 4 2020
*Jon 3:1-10, Lk 11:29-32.
Nigeria looks so much like the biblical Nineveh, real or imaginary – a great city so blessed with riches and potentials but neck deep in corruption; A nation whose resources are ruthlessly plundered by its few leaders in broad daylight while poverty stares its majority at the face; A nation where any anti corruption crusade is sabotaged by the cold hands of senseless opposition and truth is slaughtered at the altar of partisan politics. Nigeria could so much be likened to Nineveh. But the only contrast lies in our response to the Word of God for repentance.
The Ninevites responded spontaneously to the call for repentance. The man of God, Jonah, was not all that a polished preacher. His homilitic style was merely declarative: ‘Only 40 days and Nineveh will be destroyed’. But here in Nigeria, we have various kinds of preachers; some exhortational in style, some didactic and expository, others reflective and more analytic, etc. But what is the response we see? More corruption!
As we find in today’s gospel, Jesus may likely call us ‘A wicked generation’ compared to the Ninevite generation. It is a great tragedy in life when people with lesser opportunities perform better, while those with abundant blessings get ruined. As Jonah was a sign of repentance for the Ninevites even without much miracles and homilitic finese, Jesus performed miracles and taught us about the kingdom with all profundity and clarity of thought. As Jonah stayed 3 days in the belly of a fish as a sign of resurrection for the Ninevites, Jesus stayed 3 days in the grave and rose again to save us from sin. As the Queen of Sheba sought the Wisdom of Solomon all the way from Ethiopia to Jerusalem, this generation will be condemned for rejecting the wisdom of Jesus well espoused daily in all our churches.
‘Repentance’ says John Milton, ‘is the golden key that opens the palace of eternity’. It is the secret charm that melts the heart of Divine fury. God cannot, strictly speaking, be said to repent of his intents. Going by Aristotle’s theory of Act and Potency, He is ‘actus purus’ – pure act. He has no potency. He does not change. But anthropomorphically speaking, God relents his decisions to punish us, when he sees our sincere efforts in repentance – He saw the Ninevites repent starting from their King to the last person of worth. That is what we don’t know whether it will ever happen in Nigeria. Will repentance ever begin from Aso rock? Will the anti corruption and anti recession restructuring ever start from the Red Chambers? It is only a wicked generation that hears the Word of God and refuses to repent.
The lenten season is here again – a great opportunity for our repentance. May God bless you today!