Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard about the story of Jonah, who was famously eaten by a whale and dwelled in its stomach for three days and nights, when he tried to escape from the mission which God had entrusted him, that is to warn the great city of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire, of the impending doom and destruction God was bringing upon it for its sins and wickedness, the sins of its people.
We see through the readings, how God forgives, rescues and helps His people, who had been lost to sin, wickedness and the darkness of the world, through the means of the sending of His own Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who is part of Himself, the Divine Word of God, who proclaimed the doom of the wicked and destruction of the haughty and sinful ones, who refused to repent from their sins, and yet, at the same time also assured those who were willing to repent and change their ways, the promise of eternal life and salvation.
God did not desire the destruction of His beloved people, as much as He hated their sins and disobedience. He wants them to be saved and reconciled with Him, and the way to do this is through genuine repentance and changing of our ways, that we would no longer sin but be righteous people and servants of God from now on. This was just like the people of Nineveh who sincerely repented from their sins and wickedness, and humbled themselves before the Lord.
But if we read further on in the Book of the prophet Jonah, we would realise that Jonah became angry with God, who forgave the people of Nineveh and did not carry out the punishment He intended for them. He refused to listen to God’s explanation for His mercy and he was deep in his anger, and when a plant that grew and sheltered him became parched and died, he burst out in anger against the Lord for that.
God chastised Jonah, by saying that, if the life of a single plant mattered so much for him to the point of being angry for its death, then the people of Nineveh, which number more than a hundred thousand were even more important for the Lord, for every single one of them are significant in the eyes of the Lord, and the Lord cared for each one of them.
That was why He tried to show them His love and mercy, by sending Jonah to them, and the same was repeated when the Lord Jesus came, and this time, not just for the people of Nineveh or for a group of people, but instead for all of mankind, past, present and future, including all of us. But, for this to happen, that is for forgiveness to occur, we must play an active role in seeking for that forgiveness, and that means, to be humble and to lower ourselves before the Lord, as the people of Nineveh, and to dispose of all forms of pride, anger and others from ourselves.
Many of us are like Jonah, who thought that because he was the messenger of God’s will, then he could look down upon the people of Nineveh as condemned people and people destined for annihilation. He misinterpreted the will of God, and ended up dwelling in his pride, prejudice and hubris, thinking that he alone is worthy and not the people of Nineveh. Thus, his ego welled up inside of him.
The same also often happens to us. We are often too caught up with our ego and pride such that we fail to see our own sinfulness and inability to seek God’s forgiveness because of that ego and pride. As long as we refuse to bend down our knee, acknowledging that we are all also sinners, before the presence of God, it will be difficult for us to be forgiven for our numerous sins and therefore receive God’s salvation.
May all of us be awakened to the reality of our sinfulness, and be aware of how much God loves us and how great is the care which He wants to show us all, the desire which will bring us much happiness and grace, if only we follow the path of the people of Nineveh, who repented from their sins and in their humility begged for God’s mercy and forgiveness. May God be with us all. Amen.