Wednesday in the First Week of Lent at Mississippi Abbey
Flannery O’Connor, who attended daily Mass, could still describe her life as “staggering between despair and presumption.” Like her, we can ping pong between these two sins.
During the time of the Prophet Jonah, the defeated people of Israel were going through a crisis of faith, doubting God’s love and mercy. They were in despair. But the story of the prophet Jonah taught them and us that just as the enormous wickedness of the Ninevites was forgiven when they repented, so also, God lovingly forgives our sins when we repent.
But there is another deadly sin more common today: presumption, expecting forgiveness without repentance.
The crucifixion of Jesus is a remedy for both of these deadly sins. By the enormous sufferings Jesus endured, he shows us how terrible sin is, to keep us from presumption. By his prayer of forgiveness during his agony on the cross Jesus shows how great God’s mercy is, to keep us from despair.