The Ninevites turned from their evil way.
A reading from the Book of the Prophet Jonah 3:1-10
The word of the Lord came to Jonah, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he cried, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. Then tidings reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, and covered himself with sack cloth, and sat in ashes. And he made proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; let them not feed, or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sack cloth, and let them cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence which is in his hands. Who knows, God may yet repent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we perish not?” When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God repented of the evil which he had said he would do to them; and he did not do it.
The Word of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm51:3-4.12-13.18-19 (R.19b)
R/. A broken and humbled heart, O God, you will not spurn.
Have mercy on me, O God,
According to your merciful love;
According to your great compassion,
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me completely from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin. R/.
Create a pure heart for me, O God;
renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence;
take not your holy spirit from me. R/.
For in sacrifice you take no delight;
Burnt offering from me would not please you.
My sacrifice to God, a broken spirit:
A broken and humbled heart, O God, you will not spurn. R/.
VERSE BEFORE THE GOSPEL Joel 2:12-13
Glory and praise to you, O Christ. Even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, for I am gracious and merciful. Glory and praise to you, O Christ.
“No sign shall be given to this generation except the sign of Jonah.”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke (Luke 11:29-32)
At that time: When the crowds were increasing, Jesus began to say, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah became a sign to the men of Nineveh, so will the Son of man be to this generation. The queen of the South will arise at the judgement with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the Wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will arise at the judgement with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
The entire book of Jonah is for me a story of God’s unending faith in humanity; the fact that God does not give up on the creature he made; the fact that God is ever ready to give us a second chance again and again. God could have simply destroyed the Ninevites but he gave them a second chance by sending Jonah to them. Jonah himself tried to escape from God but God caught him, brought him back and gave him another chance. Jonah wasn’t even qualified as a messenger of God yet this irresponsible-runaway- preacher became instrumental to the salvation of an entire city. Jonah didn’t even ask them to repent. He didn’t say “change your evil ways. Be good children of God. Stop sinning, etc.” Jonah just went about the city announcing doom and destruction. It was a hopeless situation for the people but they refused to resign themselves to FATE. They instinctively knew that despite whatever their past had been, what matters to God is “right now.” They heard the message of doom but believed in their hearts that there was still hope.
Do not conclude about yourself based on what you see now, develop a new vision for yourself, call yourself a Saint and start working on yourself, begin to make efforts, do something about that which you do not like about you, ask for help, open the roof of houses like the four men who brought their paralytic to Jesus, talk to someone today as to how to come out of your spiritual captivity. You see, the point is: God wants to see the efforts you are making. At times, like these people, we judge ourselves based on appearances; we consider ourselves good for nothing because of what our physical eyes can see. We lack faith to realize that we have God inside us; that we are capable of much more than we think. We see the son-of-a-carpenter in ourselves but we don’t believe in the Saint we could be. Never judge a book by its cover. Never conclude about yourself based on your past; don’t give up on yourself, keep believing, keep being positive; keep making efforts.