One thing is very clear and actually demanded from the one who hears the call of discipleship to follow Jesus and wishes to answer it: it will always involve a leap of faith, an extra helping of courage and sometimes small or monumental act of faith. Such was the case of Jonah of which we heard in our First Reading after he was first charged to warn and issue an apocalyptic message to the Ninevites: “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed.” This was no easy task and neither was the awesome, even unexpected outcome: “When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out.” What a relief that must have been! In front of this all-encompassing mercy of God that marvels as well as redeems, we can understand and agree with the Psalmist who is insistent with the only recourse we have when we have made that tumultuous leap of complete trust: “A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.”
The benefits of this leap of faith are then made crystal clear and even more desirable in the Gospel today which re-addresses the nature of Jonah’s mission and our own hopes for a successful Lenten Season. Jesus is the last installment of any hope to return to the most excellent existence that could only possibly be had in heaven, Our life here on earth, much like these forty days of Lent preparing us for Easter, is like an “extended Lent” bringing us to new heights and clarity so that we may continue onward.
Perhaps we could agree with a statement that was posted in a church lobby some years ago: “When God pushes you to the edge of difficulty, trust Him fully because two things will happen. Either He will catch you when you fall or He will teach you how to fly.”