Thought for the Day by Malcolm Heath (St Michael’s)
In the season of Lent we are encouraged to reflect on the shortcomings in our relationship with God, and on the steps that we can take to improve that relationship.
Jeremiah might say that we are letting ourselves off lightly: that our disregard of God’s will and our resistance to it requires radical repentance and radical transformation. There is not a single person who acts justly or seeks truth (Jer. 5.1); when we speak about God, we do so falsely (5.12). What we need, Jeremiah might say, is more than an annual forty-day and forty-night top-up: our individual and collective sins demand a year-long Lent.
‘“Shall I not punish them for these things?”, says the LORD’ (5.9).
‘“Even in those days,” says the LORD, “I will not make a full end of you”’ (5.18).
God urges Jeremiah to search the streets and squares of Jerusalem to ‘see if you can find one person who acts justly and seeks truth—so that I may pardon Jerusalem’ (5.1).
But is there even one such person?
As the reading from John’s Gospel reminds us, there is. Jesus, the Son, is in complete unity with his Father: ‘whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise… Indeed, just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes. The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, so that all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father’ (John 5.19, 21-22).
In the penitential gloom of Lent, we look towards the light of Christ’s resurrection, and of our own: ‘very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life’ (5.24).