by Cheriyan Vengal, Toronto, Canada
God has commanded Jonah to go to Nineveh to preach them to repent. But instead of obeying God's command, he headed for Tarshish. All of us know what happened to Jonah. The same is happening to us in our daily life also. God directs us what to do, but we don't accept it as we have our own plan and go ahead with that. But eventually our plan fails. It's the same saying as 'man proposes, but God disposes'. God disposes our plans only if it is contradicting with His plan. Even if He disposes our plans, He will take care of us. If we fell into traps due to our own plan, He will not allow us to be crushed under it. But remember we will be inside the 'fish' of complications striving to get out. The fish obeyed the command of God not to eat and digest Jonah, but only to swallow, and after three days to vomit him on dry land. The leafy plant obeyed the command of God to grow above Jonah and give him shade. The worm obeyed the command of God to chew this plant, and the sun and wind also obeyed His commands. Are we ready to obey His commands and live accordingly? Let's practice obedience on the first day of lent.
We can get out of the 'fish' if we pray and submit ourselves to God as Jonah did. Jonah testifies that God answered him when he called in his distress; God listened to his cry when he called for help. He promises that he will look again to the temple of God even though God put him through many hardships. He acknowledges that God is the one who lift him from the pit. Our prayer should also be a total submission to God same as Jonah's prayer. Our mind and heart should be fully immersed in the prayer. Nothing should distract us. We should totally disconnect ourselves from the worldly feelings. As we are inside the 'fish', we will have only one prayer 'lord please get me out of this situation'. God will deliver us from our sufferings. Are we ready to pray by totally submitting ourselves to God? Let's do a prayerful self submission on the second day of lent.
Jonah proclaimed to the Ninevites that 'forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown'. After hearing this, they believed in God; a fast was proclaimed and they put on sackcloth and prayed. They did not tasted, and eat and drink anything. They gave up their evil ways and violence. The above proclamation by Jonah is aimed at us also as we are more or less the same as the Ninevites. Remember the words, 'forty more days, and we will be overthrown'. Count down started ! Are we ready to repent like the Ninevites. As the King of Nineveh took off his royal robes, let's took off our luxuries and put on sackcloth and pray. Let's fast like the Ninevites. God excused the Ninevites as they turned out from their evil ways. He will excuse us also. Let's repent from our heart on the third day of lent.
Even though the deadline for Ninevites was forty days, God blessed their generation to last for another century and half, because they obeyed, prayed and repented. God is giving us a chance to obey, pray and repent to get blessed. Let's make use of it in these three days of lent so that our generations will last forever.
"As Thou didst answer Jonah, answer us who call on Thee. Thou redeemest those from wrath, Ninevites who called on Thee."
by HH Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, Patriarch of Antioch and All The East
Supreme Head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church
The Lent of Jonah
by Bar Eto briro Dr. D Babu Paul
The History of the Three Days Lent in Syriac Orthodox Church
by Rev. Fr. Dr. Biji Chirathilattu
Sermons, Bible Commentaries and Bible Analyses for Nineveh Lent
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