FIRST READING (Jonah 3:1-10)
The word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth.
Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he cried, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. Then tidings reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, and covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he made proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; let them not feed, or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them cry mightily to God; yea, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence which is in his hands. Who knows, God may yet repent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we perish not?”
When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God repented of the evil which he had said he would do to them; and he did not do it.
GOSPEL (Luke 11:29-32)
When the crowds were increasing, Jesus began to say, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah became a sign to the men of Nineveh, so will the Son of man be to this generation.
“The queen of the South will arise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.
“The men of Nineveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.”
(Word of Life Community)
FURTHERMORE . . .
The story of Jonah is OUR story, with its details of rebellion, repentance, salvation and mission. The “sign of Jonah” tells us how those details are grounded in the person and preaching of Jesus Christ.
Of the fifteen Old Testament passages read in Orthodox practice at the vesperal Divine Liturgy of Holy Saturday, the fourth consists of the entire, brief book of Jonah. Although the book is numbered among the “Minor Prophets,” it is unique: rather than offer a compilation of prophetic utterances, it recounts a spiritual pilgrimage. However we may assess its “historicity,” the work is preserved in the Church’s canon of Scripture because of its timeless proclamation of God’s universal saving grace and love. It is a story of rebellion and redemption, of God’s forgiveness and mercy extended alike to Jew and Gentile, saint and sinner, you and me.
Go HERE to continue reading this article by Fr John Breck, Professor of Biblical Interpretation and Ethics at the St Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris.
Something special here from the LITERAL translation, incorporated from Fr Z's website: WDTPRS:
Grant, we beseech thee, O Lord,
having been polished by means of the Lenten observance
and nourished by thy Word,
may by this fast be consecrated with our whole heart,
and made harmonious in thy prayer.
[Praesta, quaesumus, Domine,
ut, per quadragesimalem observantiam eruditi
et tuo verbo nutriti,
sancta continentia tibi simus toto corde devoti,
et in oratione tua semper efficiamur concordes.
A bit strange in its style, no? Well, this is of new composition for the Novus Ordo. It takes some inspiration from Sermon 40, 4 of St. Pope Leo I “the Great” (+461). Erudio is “to polish, educate, instruct, teach”. Rudis is an adjective for “unwrought, untilled, unformed, unused, rough, raw, wild”. Someone who is rudis is “rude, unpolished, uncultivated, unskilled, awkward, clumsy, ignorant; hence (like ignarus)”. People must be brought out of this state by being polished. St. Augustine (+430) wrote a work called De catechizandis rudibus. Eruditio refers to the whole culture and formation of a Catholic.
Observantia is certainly an “observance”, but also “an observance of religious duties, divine worship, religion”. For example, the Theodosian Code speaks of “fides Catholicae observantiae” (16, 5, 12, § 54).
Day by day our Lenten observance ought to be a polishing not a torture. Sometimes people make the mistake in the spiritual life of putting themselves on the rack. The rock tumbler is a better model than the rack. -