“Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation”



My friends, if we were to run through the various ages of the world, everywhere we would see the earth covered with the mercies of the Lord and people surrounded by his favors. No, my friends: it is not a question of the sinner coming back to God to beg for his forgiveness; God himself runs after the sinner and brings about his return… He is waiting for repentant sinners and he invites them by the interior stirring of his grace and the voice of his ministers.

Look at how he acted towards Nineveh, that great and wicked city. Before punishing its inhabitants, he ordered his prophet, Jonah, to go on his behalf and proclaim that, in forty days, he was going to punish them. Instead of going to Nineveh, Jonah fled by another way. He wanted to cross the sea but, far from leaving the Ninevites without warning before he punished them, God performed a miracle to preserve his prophet in the belly of a whale for three days and three nights, which, after three days, vomited him onto dry land. Then the Lord said to Jonah: «Go and tell the great city that in forty days more it will perish». He set no conditions at all. When he had gone, the prophet announced to Nineveh that in forty days it would perish.

At this news all of them, from peasant to king, fell to repentance and weeping. «Who knows,» said the king to them, «whether the Lord will not yet have pity on us?» The Lord, seeing them take refuge in repentance, seemed to take delight in forgiving them. Jonah, seeing that the time for their punishment had expired, withdrew outside the city to wait for fire from heavento fall on them. But when he saw that it wasn’t coming down, Jonah exclaimed: «Ah, Lord! Are you going to make me pass for afalse prophet? Rather, let me die. Oh, I well know you to be too generous! All you want to do is forgive!» – «Now, Jonah!» said the Lord to him: «do you want me to cause so many people to perish who have humbled themselves before me? Oh no! no! Jonah. I wouldn’t have the heart for it; to the contrary, I will love and preserve them.»

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