Wednesday of the First Week of Lent
(Jonah 3:1-10; Luke 11:29-32)
The Book of the Prophet Jonah has become one of the most popular readings of the Old Testament. For one thing it has a short, fascinating narrative. For another, it highlights the contemporary value of tolerance for other peoples. Also, as today’s gospel relates, Jesus used the story to teach about his own mission.
Jesus refers to the great conversion that takes place with Jonah’s preaching. A city-state perhaps as large and as notorious as Mexico City today is imagined. Jonah might have been a reluctant preacher, but evidently his words had great power. He inspired everyone to change heart and conform to God’s ways. There are no historical records that such a repentance ever took place in Nineveh or anywhere else. Nevertheless, Jesus intends that his own preaching cause such a dramatic turnabout in Israel.
God can so change us with no effort on our part. But more often we become more kind and holy through our cooperation with God’s grace. In any case we should ask God’s assistance so that the change be inward and not just outward, that it be permanent and not just temporary.