Saturday 14 November 2015

Wednesday of the 1st Week of Lent

Jews and Ninevites were sworn enemies during the time of the Prophet Jonah. The Ninevites (a.k.a. the Assyrians) were Israel's most hated enemy, as they were the ones responsible for wiping out the northern Kingdom of Israel, and continuing to harass the Southern Kingdom of Judah. And now Jonah, a Jewish prophet, was sent to this pagan nation to preach about destruction in 40 days time. Such a deed would have been revolting, shocking or disgusting to the Israelites. Just imagine: a Jewish prophet helping the enemy to repent and change their ways? Absolutely incomprehensible! But that is exactly what happened: Jonah went and warned the Ninevites about their impending disaster and doom, and today's reading tells us that the Ninevites actually repented with fasting, penance and prayer. Even more shocking, God actually relented and did not inflict on the Ninevites the disaster which He had threatened.

What does this tell us? God is impartial; God's mercy and compassion is for all, not exclusive or restricted only to a certain people or to a certain group. The Israelites thought that God would only care for them and destroy all others, but today's reading shows us otherwise. As long as we are willing to show our repentance by taking our penance seriously, God would be merciful to us just He had done for the Ninevites. Are we willing to learn from the Ninevites, and make every effort to repent and seek forgiveness, especially through the Sacrament of Reconciliation? May we not waste the many opportunities given to us to return to the Lord and walk in His ways.

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