Do we understand what the words mercy and compassion mean? We often say such words, especially when we are the ones asking for mercy and compassion, but when it involves others, especially those who have done great harm towards us, towards our loved ones, or even towards others, do we have the same attitude of mercy and compassion? Quite likely, some of us may wish just retribution towards those who have cause such harm. But if we consider a moment: do we fight evil with evil? How different are we if we demand retribution towards those who have done harm, and we respond with hate, anger and rage?
In today's reading, Jonah was sulking and fuming because God did not punish the people of Nineveh, because these people had renounce their evil behaviour. Jonah had expected divine retribution from God, because the Ninevites were Israel's sworn enemies. But what Jonah failed to realise and appreciate is that God is merciful and compassionate to all, not just to the Israelites, and He is slow to anger, rich in graciousness, relenting from evil.
If God is so compassionate and merciful towards all, even towards those whom some perceive to be evil-doers, than what about us? Do we still insist for an eye for an eye, or retribution come what may? Or have we learnt to be like God, who is patient, loving, compassionate, and merciful to all?