Reading 1 (JONAH 3:1-10)

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Jonah

The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time:
“Set out for the great city of Nineveh,
and announce to it the message that I will tell you.”
So Jonah made ready and went to Nineveh,
according to the LORD’s bidding.
Now Nineveh was an enormously large city;
it took three days to go through it.
Jonah began his journey through the city,
and had gone but a single day’s walk announcing,
“Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed,”
when the people of Nineveh believed God;
they proclaimed a fast
and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth.

When the news reached the king of Nineveh,
he rose from his throne, laid aside his robe,
covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in the ashes.
Then he had this proclaimed throughout Nineveh,
by decree of the king and his nobles:
“Neither man nor beast, neither cattle nor sheep,
shall taste anything;
they shall not eat, nor shall they drink water.
Man and beast shall be covered with sackcloth and call loudly to God;
every man shall turn from his evil way
and from the violence he has in hand.
Who knows, God may relent and forgive, and withhold his blazing wrath,
so that we shall not perish.”
When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way,
he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them;
he did not carry it out.

– The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm (PSALM 51:3-4, 12-13, 18-19)

R. (19b) A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me. 
R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
For you are not pleased with sacrifices;
should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.

Verse Before The Gospel (JOEL 2:12-13)

(Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.)

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart
for I am gracious and merciful.

(Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.)

Gospel (LUKE 11:29-32)

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke

While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them,
“This generation is an evil generation;
it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it,
except the sign of Jonah. 
Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites,
so will the Son of Man be to this generation.
At the judgment 
the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation 
and she will condemn them,
because she came from the ends of the earth
to hear the wisdom of Solomon,
and there is something greater than Solomon here. 
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.”

Reflection: Lent is the time to repent from our sins and commit ourselves to the teachings of the Lord.
In the First Reading (Jonah 3:1-10), the Prophet Jonah has been released by the large fish after three days and three nights. God told him to proclaim the same message to Nineveh, before the prophet ran away to Tarshish. This is what Jonah did, and the people, even the Assyrian king, believed in him. They proclaimed a fast, put on a sackcloth and rolled in ashes, turned away from their wickedness, etc. When God saw their repentance, he did not continue his plan of destruction.
In the Gospel (Luke 11:29-32), Jesus knows that the crowds and the Pharisees and scribes will ask him for a sign. That is why he compares it as an evil generation. He gives them the signs of the Prophet Jonah and the Queen of Sheba. Jonah symbolizes Jesus himself who proclaims repentance to the people, including us. The Queen of Sheba symbolizes the Blessed Virgin Mary who reminds the people at Cana, which is for all of us: “Do whatever he tells you to do” (John 2:5)! And the end of the generation refers to the Last Judgement, wherein all the righteous will rise up to eternal life, while all the evil will fall into eternal damnation.
So as we journey down this Lenten road, let us spend this 40-day journey by renewal, penance, meditation, and charity.

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