First Reading: Joel 2:12-18

Turn Back to the Lord!

12 "Yet even now," says YHWH, "turn to me with all your heart,
and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning."
13 Tear your heart, and not your garments,
and turn to YHWH, your God;
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness,
and relents from sending calamity.
14 Who knows? He may turn and relent,
and leave a blessing behind him,
even a meal offering and a drink offering to YHWH, your God.
15 Blow the trumpet in Zion!
Sanctify a fast.
Call a solemn assembly.
16 Gather the people.
Sanctify the assembly.
Assemble the elders.
Gather the children, and those who nurse from breasts.
Let the bridegroom go forth from his room,
and the bride out of her room.
17 Let the priests, the ministers of YHWH, weep between the porch and the altar,
and let them say, "Spare your people, YHWH,
and don't give your heritage to reproach,
that the nations should rule over them.
Why should they say among the peoples,
'Where is their God?'"
18 Then YHWH was jealous for his land,
And had pity on his people.
19 YHWH answered his people,
"Behold, I will send you grain, new wine, and oil,
and you will be satisfied with them;
and I will no more make you a reproach among the nations.

World English Bible

The book of Joel used a local disaster (an attack of locusts) as sign of the end times. The Day of YHWH!

These verses from Joel lay in the shadow of the Lord's judgement. What should the people do when they face such a dark, ominous threat? Who could endure it? (See Joel 2:11) Humbly return to the Lord! Don't just show your return. MEAN IT! [2:12-13a] For the Lord is kind and merciful. [2:13b]

This should be a time for community-wide action. Everyone should gather together. The leaders should bless the congregation and direct repentance, as they cry out for the Lord's forgiveness. [2:14-18].

This short passage is a perfect introduction for the season of Lent. For it places our focus on the spirit of the season. Turn back to God with a single vision and a sure attitude. And celebrate the Lord's mercy.

How can you celebrate God's mercy as Lent begins?