Grace to you!
The fourth chapter of the book of Jonah, our biblical text for today's reflection, brings the entire message from the Book of Jonah together in a beautiful way. We read that Jonah was upset because God showed mercy to the repentant people of Nineveh.
The prophet was so upset he claimed that was the reason he refused to go preach to Nineveh in the first place, because he knew God would forgive them if they repented. Isn’t this ironical?
One may say Jonah wasn't a kind man at all. One may also claim a moral superior position, thinking they would have been more kind than Jonah. We easily forget that from time to time we adopt the same attitude too. Especially, when we are the victims of the offender’s hurting wounds.
On numerous occasions, I have heard faithful Christians complain bitterly that a murderer, or even a terrorist with blood on his hands, repented. Once someone said, “I hope God will not allow that one (referring to a repented murderer) into heaven after all he had done, repentance or no repentance.”
I remember a day, during one of the 9/11 memorials, when I called for prayer novena for the conversion of terrorists. After the Mass, someone from the congregation gave me the eye. “Not that kind of forgiveness” he said.
Funny, isn’t it?
We set limits to what we can forgive, but this isn't the way God does. For God, there is no limit to His mercy and forgiveness, provided we did like the people of Nineveh.
This is one of the lessons we learn from Jesus the Lord himself. He teaches us to forgive, making it the only conditional prayer point in the Our Father—“Forgive us…as we forgive others” (Lk 11:4; Mt 6:14). He shares many parables of the radical nature of divine forgiveness (Lk 15). He tells Peter, as he tells all of us, that forgiveness is limitless (Mt 18:22).
Why? Because the Lord cares so much for everyone He has created and would do anything to offer the sinner the opportunity of salvation. Pay attention to God’s message to Jonah in response to his objection to divine mercy shown to the people of Nineveh:
"You are concerned over the plant which cost you no labor and which you did not raise; it came up in one night and in one night it perished. And should I not be concerned over Nineveh, the great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot distinguish their right hand from their left, not to mention the many cattle?” (Jon 4:10-11)
I pray that we believers be as concerned for the salvation of souls as God wishes. May we be open to the limitless measure of mercy and forgiveness, and welcome the grace that makes these possible for ourselves and for others. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Wednesday Week 27 A: Jon 4:1-11; Lk 11:1-4]
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.