March 4, 2020 – Wednesday 1st Week of Lent
Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/030420.cfm)
Jonah was quite rebellious to God because he was sent by God to do something, which he did not want to do. For that reason, Jonah tried to escape from God and to escape from the responsibility that God gave him.
Jonah was sent to Nineveh, a city of which Jonah hated so much because they were Assyrians, the very people who oppressed them. Indeed, Jonah’s people suffered so much from the Assyrians.
We can understand why Jonah hated the Assyrians and why he tried to escape from God. God sent him to Nineveh in order to preach repentance so that God may show mercy to them and will save them from death. Jonah feared that these people will repent and believe in God and then, God will show mercy to them. Jonah wanted these people to suffer, to die and to rot in hell. He did not want his enemies to be saved and to be shown mercy.
Yet, this is what really happened. When Jonah called the people to repent, they indeed repented and believed in God and that was why God showed mercy to them and saved them from death.
This tells us something of our attitude like Jonah. We might also find ourselves wishing suffering and death to those whom we hate, especially those who have caused us so much pain. We might have wished and cursed those people who did something terrible to others too. When a violence and or a crime is done to an innocent, we might have demanded too, the same violence and crime to perpetrators. Like Jonah, we too might have believed that justice is attained through a gruesome death to our enemies. Like Jonah, we also could tend to believe that God should not show mercy to those who have hurt us, to our enemies and people who did terrible things to the innocent.
However, Jonah’s story tells us differently. God is a God of everyone, of good and bad people, of righteous and sinners, of criminals and law-abiding citizens alike. God is for everyone as His mercy is for all.
And because God’s mercy is for all, God also desires that all will be saved and will be reconciled to Him.
God indeed shows mercy. Jesus who became human like us and lived among us is the Father’s ultimate sign of mercy and love. In Jesus, the Father tells us that we are never abandoned, that there is always hope and goodness in each of us no matter how broken we are, and sinful we have turned to be. God always sees goodness in us.
Thus, in this Season of Lent, may each of us also become God’s sign of repentance, of mercy, and of hope to our brothers and sisters. May our words and actions express and give hope, and encourage renewal to those whom others may believe to be hopeless and less human – may they be alcoholics, drug addicts, inmates and other law offenders, and street dwellers. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR