Coincidentally, today’s gospel (Mt 12:38-42) reading just happens to tie in well with my musings in yesterday’s post. Jesus, asked for a sign by some scribes and Pharisees, recalls Jonah’s three days in the whale (prefiguring Jesus’ three days in the tomb). But, speaking of Jonah, Jesus gives an ominous warning: unlike Nineveh which repented at Jonah’s warning, the scribes and Pharisees are part of an unbelieving, unrepentant group that will be accused by those same Ninevites at the time of judgment.
Consider Jonah (see the book of Jonah). He was not interested in preaching repentance to the Ninevites. He wanted them destroyed. The giant fish episode only happened because God used that means to drive Jonah back to Nineveh to carry out His will.
Yesterday, I wrote about the suddenness of transformation from evil to good that can only happen when God is called upon. Hezekiah was a willing participant in that time, Jonah not so willing in his time. We are to imitate the former. We are not to be Jonahs: reluctant, excuse making, bitter, complaining, vengeful. Rather we are called to do what Hezekiah did willingly and Jonah did through compulsion: call for a turning to the Lord. Let us never shy away from the command to evangelize. Our Nineveh might be our own homes, our circles of friends, our parishes, our workplaces. Does a sudden transformation of a bad situation seem impossible? “For God all things are possible” (Mt 19:26). Let us be the ultimately obedient Jonah, whether we have always been open to the promptings of the Spirit or even if we have already weathered storms and sea monsters running away from God. The time for action is now!