THE SERVANT GENERAL
OUR THEME FOR 2016
JONAH AND JESUS
We are living in times of darkness and a tsunami of evil is
upon the whole world. As Jesus said then, it can be said now,
“This generation is an evil generation” (Lk 11:29b).
Because of such great evil, the world stands condemned. It
deserves the just punishment of God. Just as with Nineveh,
time is running out for the world. “Forty days more
and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” (Jon 3:4b).
to us! Is there a way out? Yes, there is always the mercy
of God. What is mercy? It is withholding the just punishment
due us for our transgressions. As with Nineveh, God “repented
of the evil he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry
it out.” (Jon 3:10b). What caused that to happen? The
people repented. “They proclaimed a fast and all of
them, great and small, put on sackcloth.” (Jon 3:5b).
Now God is always merciful, and He bestows mercy freely on
His people. But for us to appropriate and experience such
mercy, we need to turn away from sin and turn back to God.
It is “when God saw by their actions how they turned
from their evil way” (Jon 3:10a) that he did not carry
out their just punishment.
have sinned, and we continue to sin. But we can always look
to the mercy of God. “Man and beast alike must be covered
with sackcloth and call loudly to God; they all must turn
from their evil way and from the violence of their hands.”
(Jon 3:8). This is the definition of repentance. It is a turning
away from sin and a turning back to God. And mercy is always
an invitation to repentance.
we can always look to the mercy of God. “Have mercy
on me, God, in accord with your merciful love; in your abundant
compassion blot out my transgressions.” (Ps 51:3). We
do have our part to play. First, we must acknowledge our sinfulness.
“For I know my transgressions; my sin is always before
me.” (Ps 51:5). Second, we must desire to turn away
from sin and live according to God’s ways. “Cleanse
me with hyssop, that I may be pure” (Ps 51:9a). Third,
we must open ourselves up to the continuing work of the Holy
Spirit, who guides us and empowers us to live chaste lives.
“A clean heart create for me, God; renew within me a
steadfast spirit.” (Ps 51:12).
experienced the mercy of God, having turned back to God, we
must then share with others what God has done for us, so that
they too will do what we have done. “I will teach the
wicked your ways, that sinners may return to you.” (Ps
51:15). We need to proclaim the gospel to a sinful world,
a world that is spiraling into perdition. Though deep in darkness
and evil, there is always hope. “Who knows? God may
again repent and turn from his blazing wrath, so that we will
not perish.” (Jon 3:9). The king of Nineveh was hoping
for God’s mercy. For our part, we know of God’s
mercy. We have seen Jesus crucified on the cross for our sins.
Ninevites repented and were saved, as the prophet Jonah called
them to repentance. Jesus has also called us to repentance
and went further to pay the price for our sins. To not accept
his great mercy is to stand condemned. “At the judgment
the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn
it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there
is something greater than Jonah here.” (Lk 11:32).