The first reading at Mass on Sunday, the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, was taken from the book of Jonah.
The word of the Lord was addressed to Jonah: ‘Up!’ he said ‘Go to Nineveh, the great city, and preach to them as I told you to.’ Jonah set out and went to Nineveh in obedience to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was a city great beyond compare: it took three days to cross it. Jonah went on into the city, making a day’s journey. He preached in these words, ‘Only forty days more and Nineveh is going to be destroyed.’ And the people of Nineveh believed in God; they proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least.
God saw their efforts to renounce their evil behaviour. And God relented: he did not inflict on them the disaster which he had threatened.
Famously, Jonah is mighty displeased at the conversion of the Ninevites. He’d rather see them unrepentant and blasted into Kingdom come by the wrath of God.
Poor Jonah is not happy that Nineveh repents and that God is merciful! He would arrange things very much better!
And so might we. But again and again God reminds us our ways are not his ways, and more’s the pity! For us.
But the patience we lack with others, he lavished on us.
Makes you think, doesn’t it. Let it drive you to prayer too! And draw you, happily, to life.
Photograph of a happy chappy. Street art in Kraków, Poland. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.