By: H.H. Pope Shenouda
The Holy Bible did not record for us the deep admonishing speech which led one hundred and twenty thousand persons to repentance with that wonderful contrition of heart. O that it supplied us with this excellent part in which concentrates all Jonah’s greatness!
All that, the Holy Bible records for us in this respect does not exceed one phrase in which was mentioned that Jonah entered the city and cried out, saying: “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (Jon. 3:4).
Could it be that Jonah said only this single sentence? Was it sufficient to save the city and cause that tremendous effect?
Previously, Lot had said of Sodom: “The Lord will destroy this city!” (Gen. 19:14), yet no one was affected and no one repented. The people heard of the Flood that was going to destroy the whole earth, and saw the Arc being built before their very eyes, yet no one repented and they were all destroyed. Many a time did the warning of death fail! Adam himself heard the warning: “you shall surely die”, yet that warning did not prevent him from sinning.
What was the secret behind the repentance of Nineveh and its salvation?
Was it the thirst of Jonah’s preaching and its deep effect on the souls of the Ninevite? Or was it due to the strong inner readiness of the heart so that every Divine word brought about an effect because the heart was ready to hear, the will ready to put into action and the soil good for sowing? At heart I lean towards this second opinion.
I would say that the repentance of the people of Nineveh was mainly due to the readiness of their hearts. (more…)