Today’s readings are about Jonah. Most people know the story from when they were kids. Or at least part of the story. If you were to ask 100 people about the story of Jonah, my guess is that the vast majority would only know one fact. He was the guy that got swallowed up by a whale. Well, it’s a start!
The story of Jonah has so many important messages for us. In today’s first reading from Jonah 3, we see a very Lenten message. God tells Jonah to go through the great city of Nineveh and preach a message of repentance. “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed.” The people had forty days to repent…or else! Well, the king got the message. He proclaimed a fast and commanded all to repent. And then we see the fruit of repentance.
“When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out.” You see, God was fully prepared to destroy the people of Nineveh. But when they repented, God changed His mind. We talk often about how actions have consequences. And very often, people only view that statement in a negative light. It’s true: negative actions have negative consequences. But we must also remember the other side of that coin: positive actions have positive consequences. When we do what is right and pleasing to God, God will reward us. And even when He is fully prepared to mete out punishment, we can change God’s mind by our positive actions.
Father, forgive us for those times when we are just obstinate children. Help us to repent, to change, and to do what is pleasing in your sight. Amen.
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