Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Sacred Scriptures we are all called to seek the mercy of God, our loving Father and to rebuild the relationship we have with Him, just a child seeking and asking for his or her father’s forgiveness. The father who loves his children will forgive them after he has chastised and disciplined them, and he will reunite them to himself, guiding them down the right path.
In our first reading today, as we listened to the words of the Lord speaking to us regarding the conversation that God has with Jonah, the prophet that He has chosen, called and sent to the people of Nineveh, the great capital of the Assyrian Empire which at that time had conquered many countries and peoples, razed multiple cities and settlements, enslaving innumerable people across the known world then. They committed great sins before God and their fellow men alike, and for that, they should have been destroyed and crushed.
That was what God told them through the prophet Jonah, who was sent to Nineveh to proclaim the imminent destruction of that city and its people. Upon hearing that, the people of Nineveh, from its great King, all the nobles, to all the people to the lowest status ones, all listened to the words of the Lord and sought to appease the wrath of God, humbling themselves from their previous pride and haughtiness, stripping themselves from their regal and proud appearances, and wore the penitential sackcloth as a sign of their regret and penitence before God and mankind alike.
The Lord then did not carry out what He intended to do to Nineveh, as He saw their sincerity in humbling themselves and in asking for His forgiveness, that He forgave them and spared them their destruction. But this angered Jonah in turn, for he has earlier on tried to escape from the Lord and His calling for him to go to Nineveh to speak the judgment for Nineveh. For Jonah, he was angry probably because he has laboured for the Lord and went through a great many things to come to Nineveh and speak of God’s words, only for whatever he had spoken to not have come true, as God spared Nineveh its destruction.
But God in truth never desired the destruction of Nineveh or any of its people at all. That is because ultimately, He still loves each and every one of His children equally, and every single one of them are precious to Him. Although the people of Nineveh and its king had committed great sins against Him, just as a father with prodigal and naughty children, he still desired their conversion and return to righteousness. Is this not the same as the attitude showed by the elder son in the famous parable of the prodigal son? Jonah was acting exactly the way the elder son behaved, while the younger son was representative of the people of Nineveh.
Just as in that parable, the Lord, Who is our loving Father rejoiced at the conversion of hearts of the people of Nineveh just as the younger son was welcomed with great joy by his father. Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is our God, our loving Father, Who truly desired to be reconciled with us and for us to find our way back to His love and embrace, to be filled once again with His grace and blessings, and to walk once again in the path of His truth and to be righteous and good just as He is righteous and good.
And therefore, as the Lord Himself has taught us the Lord’s Prayer in our Gospel passage today, we ought to deepen our relationship with our heavenly Father through prayer, and not just any prayer that merely passes through our mouth, but prayers that are made with genuine love and desire to commit ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord, to spend precious time with Him and to know Him more in each and every available opportunities. Through deepening ourselves in prayer and devotion to Him, and through a more genuine living of our Christian faith, all of us are called to be ever more faithful children of our Father in Heaven.
Today, let us all also be inspired by the faith and examples showed by St. Bruno, whose feast day we are celebrating today. St. Bruno was a priest of Cologne in Germany, who is also the founder of the renowned Carthusian Order. St. Bruno was a longtime educator and theologian, credited with the upbringing and development of numerous students who became great priests and servants of God. He was humble and dedicated to God, and when he was about to be appointed as a bishop, he renounced secular glory and privileges, choosing to leave behind his position and assuming the simple life of a priest.
He was a close confidant of the Pope and through his contributions by the foundation of the Carthusian Order, St. Bruno inspired many others to follow in his footsteps in being ever faithful to God, to be humble in one’s ways and to put God ahead of everything else in one’s life. St. Bruno is truly a great example that all of us ought to be inspired to follow, and today, we are all reminded and called, to reflect on our lives and to ask ourselves if we can commit ourselves to the Lord with sincerity and genuine love for Him.
May the Lord continue to guide us in our journey and may He strengthen each and every one of us that we will always persevere through whatever challenges we may encounter throughout life. May God bless us in our every endeavours and efforts to live our lives ever more worthily in His Name. Amen.