“But, everybody else is doing it!”
How often have we either said these words or heard these words.
Especially those who have or have had teenagers undoubtedly have
heard this said ad nauseam. Usually, we say such a thing
to indicate that others are doing something fun, slightly immoral,
or probably illegal and we want to do it, too! We made this argument
to strengthen our argument so that it might increase the chances
our parents or high school teachers would grant permission to us
to follow suit.
It seems to me that the point of the story from Jonah is that “everybody
else is doing it!” In fact, even the evil Babylonians are
doing it! Problem is, they are doing something that is not fun,
hardly immoral, and by no means illegal. They are repenting from
their evil ways and from “the violence in hand.” Who
wants to do that?
Not me. Not really. Well, maybe.
I am writing this on the Monday before Ash Wednesday. People have
asked me, “What are you going to give up for Lent?”
My good-humored answer is, “I’m just going to give up.”
There’s some wisdom there actually, as in, “I’m
going to give up rushing around like a crazy person in order to
listen to what the Word of God has to say this season.”
The stories of repentance in the gospels have to do with a joyful
turning back to God at Jesus’ invitation. That’s what
I’m talking about. That’s what I desire. That’s
what I want to pray for this Lent.
I desire and need signs of repentance from my brothers and sisters
in the Church. I am learning I cannot do this on my own. Lord knows
I’ve tried. I need and desire to see that “everybody
else is doing it!” I hope for that support and want to offer
that sort of support to others.
Let us pray for perseverance for ourselves and for each other that
we may turn to God and discover the mystery of joy and freedom in
that turning. After all, “everybody else is doing it,”