“You pity the plant, for which you did not labour, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night, and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” (Jonah 4:10-11)
It always feels like injustice knowing that both the ninety-nine who had no need for repentance would have the same lot as the one who went astray. This is what made Jonah angry.
By making a tree grow overnight over Jonah and suddenly letting it wither by morning, God was teaching Jonah a lesson – it is not every crime people commit that they deserve punishment for it.
Jonah was not happy that the tree which gave him shade at night would suddenly wither but that is precisely what he wished for the people of Nineveh; that they should be destroyed despite their efforts to repent.
Jonah failed to realize that there are still some good potentials in these people; that like the tree, they could still offer shade to people regardless of what they had done in the past.
One of the easiest way to forgive is to consider the fact that the person(s) I am angry with still has some good potentials. I only need to overlook the bad side and pay some attention to the good that person(s) is able to do.
This is why Jesus said on the cross: “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34). More still, in teaching us to pray in today’s Gospel passage, Jesus mentions the fact that the way to obtain forgiveness from God is to forgive those who offend us.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, teach me how to forgive. Amen.
Bible Study: Jonah 4:1-11, Ps. 86:3-6,9-10, Luke 11:1-4)