Memory of the Mother of the Lord

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jonah 3, 1-10

The word of Yahweh was addressed to Jonah a second time.

'Up!' he said, 'Go to Nineveh, the great city, and preach to it as I shall tell you.'

Jonah set out and went to Nineveh in obedience to the word of Yahweh. Now Nineveh was a city great beyond compare; to cross it took three days.

Jonah began by going a day's journey into the city and then proclaimed, 'Only forty days more and Nineveh will be overthrown.'

And the people of Nineveh believed in God; they proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least.

When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his robe, put on sackcloth and sat down in ashes.

He then had it proclaimed throughout Nineveh, by decree of the king and his nobles, as follows: 'No person or animal, herd or flock, may eat anything; they may not graze, they may not drink any water.

All must put on sackcloth and call on God with all their might; and let everyone renounce his evil ways and violent behaviour.

Who knows? Perhaps God will change his mind and relent and renounce his burning wrath, so that we shall not perish.'

God saw their efforts to renounce their evil ways. And God relented about the disaster which he had threatened to bring on them, and did not bring it.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jonah’s flight to the west was not successful. The Lord sends him back to preach in Nineveh, in the east. Obedience to the Word of God allows Jonah to perform the miracle that seemed totally impossible. Accompanied by the power of God, the prophet begins to travel through that great city. It took five words to awaken faith in the Lord in Nineveh. Even before Jonah had stopped preaching, before three days had passed, the inhabitants of Nineveh "believed" the words of the prophet and converted to the Lord. The text emphasizes the fact that this conversion involves all of the inhabitants, from the greatest to the least, even the animals. Fasting and prayer are the signs of conversion. God’s heart is touched by the inhabitants’ conversion, and he decides to change his judgment of condemnation to a judgment of mercy. The Lord has mercy on those people who had recognized their wicked conduct and he did not carry out the evil he had threatened. Even the worst enemy, the most violent people, the most wicked man or woman, can change his or her life if he or she listens to the Word of God. The prophet helps people recognize the evil in their lives and change their hearts. This is a responsibility that God, as he did with Jonah, entrusts to those who communicate his Word. We are all prophets in the Lord Jesus, and we have all been given the task of communicating the Word of God to the wider world.