Everyone in the secular world focuses on the fishy part of the story of Jonah. They don’t pay too much attention to the key part of the reason for the Jonah epic in today’s First Reading in the Daily Mass from Wednesday of the First Week of Lent:
Jonah 3:1-10: “The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time:
‘Set out for the great city of Nineveh,
and announce to it the message that I will tell you.’
So Jonah made ready and went to Nineveh,
according to the LORD’s bidding.
Now Nineveh was an enormously large city;
it took three days to go through it.
Jonah began his journey through the city,
and had gone but a single day’s walk announcing,
‘Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed,’
when the people of Nineveh believed God;
they proclaimed a fast
and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth.
When the news reached the king of Nineveh,
he rose from his throne, laid aside his robe,
covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in the ashes.
Then he had this proclaimed throughout Nineveh,
by decree of the king and his nobles:
‘Neither man nor beast, neither cattle nor sheep,
shall taste anything;
they shall not eat, nor shall they drink water.
Man and beast shall be covered with sackcloth and call loudly to God;
every man shall turn from his evil way
and from the violence he has in hand.
Who knows, God may relent and forgive, and withhold his blazing wrath,
so that we shall not perish.’
When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way,
he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them;
he did not carry it out.”
It seems that the people of Nineveh (which is I think modern-day Mosul, Iraq) repented and converted immediately upon hearing Jonah’s warning. It says that “when the people of Nineveh believed God…” after Jonah had gone “but a single day’s walk.” After all, it took 3 days to go through it, but word apparently spread more quickly than Jonah’s passage. Perhaps quite unlike the Second Step of Twelve Step movements which implies a conversion process over time. (“Came to believe…”).
When the warning signs appear on your horizon and threaten your serenity and sobriety, what do you do? Do you heed them as soon as humanly possible? Have you trained yourself to recognize the “red flags” that serve as interior warning signs of probable doom? Or do you turn aside and hope they go away?
You do not need to put on sackcloth and sit in ashes to serve as a repentance. Remove the veil from your eyes and see the danger that threatens you and turn to the Lord for help. The last stanza from Psalm 18 excerpted in today’s Morning Prayer is one of my favorite Scriptural passages:
Psalm 18:29-30: “You, LORD, give light to my lamp; my God brightens the darkness about me. With you I can rush an armed band, with my God to help I can leap a wall.”
Ask God for help in steering clear of the danger to you. Without Him you can do nothing, with Him, anything is possible.Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)"The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"