Wednesday of the First Week in Lent
(Jonah 3:1-10; Luke 11:29-32)
Ancient Nineveh lay in the area of the current Iraqi city of Mosul. No historical records indicate Jonah’s preaching there, but there is a site called “Jonah’s Tomb.” Devout Muslims and curious tourists gather at the place to recall the reluctant prophet whose preaching is said to have converted a notoriously depraved nation.
The first reading shows Jonah announcing God’s wrath with Nineveh and the people responding. The author emphasizes how it is a sincere, communal repentance. Not only common folk but also royalty and even animals of the city fast and change heart. In the gospel Jesus calls his generation “evil” because it refuses to change accordingly despite his best preaching efforts.
Now is the time for us to repent as well. If we eat more than what is healthy, we better cut back. If we allow ourselves to get upset, we should remember that God is at the helm. If we talk about others’ faults, we need to counter the tendency by praying for those with whom we have difficulty. We have heard Jesus’ call to reform. For his sake we want to change our ways.