Today we hear part of the story of Jonah. He was sent by God to Nineveh, but he went the other way and caught a boat to outrun–or outfloat–God. He set out for Tarshish. Perhaps he was afraid of being made fun of, laughed at, or beat up. So he neglected God’s will and caught a boat in the other direction. Lesson #1: When God calls us to go one way, we better not go the other.
Then God sent a storm and he was swallowed by a big fish. We know the story: after three days and nights, he is coughed up onto the shore and given another chance. This time he goes to Nineveh and does what is asked of him. Lesson #2: It is never too late to do God’s will.
Then Jonah preaches one sentence and all of Nineveh is converted (Jonah 3:4). All his fears, they ended up being empty. Lesson #3: When we let go of our fears, amazing things happen! Then the Ninevites took up penitential practices like our own Lenten practices: fasting, ashes, prayer.
Lesson #4 is in the behavior of the Ninevites that caused God to send Jonah in the first place. They were guilty of the seven deadly sins. Here is how to remember them. A plage is a seashore, like the shore Jonah was spit out upon. If you misspell it–with two Gs–and make it plural, then you get: PLAGGES.