27th Week in Ordinary Time

 

When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way . . . 

 

“Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed” (Jonah 3:4).   That’s easily imagined, as Nineveh was known for treachery, immorality, and deceitful relations with other nations.   It’s easy to believe that God would want to destroy wickedness.   Think about Sodom.   And Gomorrah.   And Egypt and the Pharaohs.

But it’s just as easy to imagine God forgiving everyone who repents, no matter how evil his deeds are.   That’s why he says,   “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live” (Ezekiel 33:11).

When the Ninevites heard Jonah’s proclamation, they responded exactly as God had hoped they would.   Proclaiming a fast, they ate and drank nothing for three days.   They humbled themselves outwardly by wearing ashes and rags, and they ceased from violence and fraud and prayed for forgiveness instead.   God was so pleased with their response that he wiped out all of their guilt and decided not to carry out his plans to punish them.

This is the kind of God we have—a God who loves to create and nurture, not to rage or destroy.   This is the kind of God who loves you.   He gives you opportunity after opportunity to turn from evil and turn back to him.   He ceaselessly calls you to put aside anything that you know isn’t his way and to take hold of the life he extends to you.   Maybe that means asking forgiveness of someone you’ve hurt.   Or speaking loving words to your family rather than harsh ones.   Or choosing honesty in your workplace instead of deception.   Or giving your time to listen to another person instead of ignoring them.

At every Mass, we pray, “Lord, have mercy.   Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.”   Not because God wants us to constantly feel guilty for our sins, but because he loves to heal and forgive and restore.   So whether you consider yourself among the “wicked” or the “only slightly misguided,” today is a good day to take the example of the people of Nineveh and turn back to God.

“Father, I confess that I have sinned.   Forgive me and help me to walk in your love once again.”

Psalm 130:1-4, 7-8
Luke 10:38-42

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