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.
First reading for Sunday of the 3rd week in Ordinary Time
The irony, of course, is that Jonah hates the Ninevites and longs for God to smite them, not for them to repent and turn to God for goodness and mercy.
But God is able to use even the most unwilling and disgruntled to fulfill his will, despite themselves! And maybe, in time, even the disgruntled might rejoice in this!
Detail of North Doors, Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.