The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, ‘Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.’So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across.Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, ‘Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!’ And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.
When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. Then he had a proclamation made in Nineveh: ‘By the decree of the king and his nobles: No human being or animal, no herd or flock, shall taste anything. They shall not feed, nor shall they drink water. Human beings and animals shall be covered with sackcloth, and they shall cry mightily to God. All shall turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands. Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish.’
When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.
Today is Tuesday the 8 October, in the 27th week of Ordinary Time.
The monks of Pluscarden Abbey sing Domine praevenisti eum. ‘Lord, you advanced to meet him with rich blessings. You have placed a crown of precious stones on his head.’ As I listen, can I ponder for a moment the rich blessings the Lord bestows on me, how God, in fact, honours me… can I begin to realise how precious I am in God’s eyes?
Today’s reading is from the Prophet Jonah.
Sometimes publicity advertisements use shock tactics to make people take notice of what’s on sale. Jonah isn’t selling anything, but he knows how to get his message across and stop people dead in their tracks. Have you ever experienced something, maybe something you’ve seen or heard, something that’s grabbed your attention and made you stop, think and change your behaviour? What was it? Why did it strike you so hard?
The conversion of Nineveh is a dramatic story. For some people conversion creeps up on them slowly rather than coming all at once. Habits are hard to change, but we’re all capable of stepping out of a rut and transforming a damaging way of life if we become convinced that it’s in our best interest. Is there something in your life that you long to change? Perhaps an area in which you know you need to grow or let go and become free?
As you listen to the story of Nineveh’s conversion again is there a part of the reading that touches you specially? Perhaps it’s telling you about a habit that you want to change or one you want to develop. We can’t always pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, but God’s powerful grace is ours for the asking.
Allow yourself to talk to God about what you desire at this moment, speaking from the heart.