The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: “Set out for the great city of Nineveh and announce to it the message that I will tell you.” So Jonah made ready and went to Nineveh, according to the LORD’s bidding.
The story of Jonah is often read as if it were a child’s fable. But in his lovingkindness, God includes it in the prophets as an example for our reflection.
If we place ourselves in Jonah’s shoes, we are fortunate that the Lord invites us more than once to join his work, despite our dissatisfied hearts. I imagine many of us pray for changes and justice in world and local events, policies, leadership, and attitudes of people. We know and seek God’s mercy, forgiveness, love, and healing for ourselves, our loved ones, and our clients. However, for our enemies, like Jonah’s Ninevites, we sulk when God relents and forgives and withholds his anger. We are ungrateful when God’s goodness is larger than our understanding.
God, have mercy on us, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out our offenses, create in us a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit.
As we discern our Lenten offerings, let us pray to return to God with our whole hearts. May God gift and renew in each of us contrite and humbled spirits and hearts for service to his Kingdom’s mission.
Malissa Geer Larson serves as Sr. Director of Community, Faith and Volunteer Engagement for Catholic Charities Community Services in the Diocese of Phoenix, walking alongside the most vulnerable with solutions that permanently improve lives.