BY PATRICK FURLONG | March 4, 2020
Today’s Readings

I used to lead immersion programs at Loyola Marymount University. Usually, trips went smoothly, but from time to time there would be a participant that would test every ounce of my patience. Months after a trip with one such student, he emailed me out of the blue and asked to meet with me. I wish I could tell you I jumped at the chance, but I did not. I did everything possible to avoid meeting. It was finals week, life was busy, and the last thing I wanted to do was meet with a student who tested my patience so mightily months prior. But he persisted and at last, I relented.

When we met, he stumbled through some small talk until impatiently I asked him why he wanted to meet. What he said next floored me: “I was probably really difficult to deal with on that trip. I was unaware of how broken our immigration system was and the real human impact that has on people. I didn’t know how to respond, so I responded childishly. But that trip challenged me, really it changed me. I have talked to everyone about what I saw, what I heard, and what I felt. And I just felt you should know that.” 

When he left, I was consumed with shame and guilt. I have a mantra to try to encounter every person with a spirit of Namaste, a recognition that there is a divine presence in me that longs to connect with the divine in others. I had failed to honor that spirit with this student. I confided my guilt and shame to a friend who reminded me that ours is a God of second chances. 

In today’s first reading, we encounter Jonah bravely following God’s command. But in a prior chapter, Jonah ran away when God called him. Ours is a God of second chances, and so we find Jonah, perhaps reluctantly, responding to the second call of God, just as I reluctantly responded to God’s second chance to see the divine in my student. 

And so today we cry out to the God of second chances.

Where have I stumbled in speaking out against injustice? Where have I struggled to respond to the word of God? How will I open myself to second chances to honor the divine I know dwells in every person I encounter?

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