Greetings to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
As we all know, Nineveh Lent is at hand. This is the time for intensive prayer and meditation. Nineveh Lent arrives just prior to the Great Lent. The Church is giving extra importance for these two Lents because these are considered as the Lents for repentance.
As we read through the book of Jonah, some puzzling thoughts may come through our mind. Is it possible for a whale to swallow a man? Can a man live in the belly of a fish for three days and nights? It is beyond human imagination, but we have to believe that everything is possible by God Almighty. Jesus Himself described this incident as sign of His own being in the tomb for three days.
Jonah is a historical person. He was the son of Amittai of Geth-hepher, near Nazareth and lived at the time of King Jeroboam. Nineveh was a heathen nation. Wickedness of Nineveh was so terrible that God could tolerate it no more. Jehovah decided to destroy them. “Nineveh will be destroyed in forty days” (Jonah 3: 4).
He decided to offer them a chance for repentance and turn away from their sins. He commissioned Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach to them. Jonah rebelled and disobeyed God. He claimed he had a reason to do so. He knew God was “gracious, merciful, slow to anger, of great kindness and repents of the evil”. He wanted a revenging God, not a forgiving One. He wanted his God to act exactly as he wanted. Jonah wanted God to destroy Nineveh. He believed that a nation rebellious against God must be destroyed. God’s will is not always matching with our own will. God never want His children to be destroyed. He is the creator of everything and there is no difference in race or nationality for Him. He is not only the God of Israel but for all nations.
Jonah represents the fallen humanity. He disobeyed God and decided to hide from His presence. But, God followed him until His plan had been accomplished. As the King of Nineveh heard about God’s wrath and the severe punishment He is going to execute, the king and the entire nation fasted three days, repented and turned back from their wickedness and escaped from the punishment.
The message of this lent is that God wants us, His chosen people, to preach to the world about His salvation because He loves the world too much. Jonah has failed to understand God’s profound love towards mankind. Yet, Jonah still preached to Nineveh unwillingly, and the whole nation repented and turned to God. God forgives the people who repent from their sins. God is merciful, and He is waiting for us to turn away from our sins and come to Him. Like the Ninevites who realized their immorality and wickedness, let us look into our selves and repent of all our sins. May this Lent enable us to prepare ourselves to be called as His children.
God bless us all.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Alex K Joy