Tag Archives: Nineveh

Wednesday, 1st Week of Lent

Jonah, Roman Catacombs

Luke 11,29-32

The Sign of Jonah.

Jonah, starting out, wasn’t much of a sign. He was a frightened man fleeing the task God gave him–to preach repentance to the great city of Nineveh. He didn’t believe it could be done. He couldn’t stop the sailors who thought he cursed their ship from throwing him overboard. He would have been finished if the whale didn’t swallow him and vomit him onto the shore at Nineveh.

An arrival like that was a sign to the Ninevites. Someone who came from the belly of a whale? The Ninevites listened to Jonah and begged for God’s forgiveness.

In Jesus, a greater than Jonah is here. He came announcing death, and then resurrection from the belly of the earth. That’s his great word, his message of hope, his sign of love for us. He proclaims it to the world. Like the people of Nineveh the world must hear it.

Paintings and sculptures of the story of Jonah, like the above, often appear in the early Christian catacombs of Rome as signs of hope for those swallowed up by death. The story of Jonah should also enlarge our hope and our prayers. God entrusts us with a great mission and a great vision. We need to accept it, for ourselves and for our world.

I believe in the sign
that lifted you up and that blesses us,
the sign of your Cross.
You bring resurrection and life to the world,.
Help us believe in what is beyond anything we know..


God sent Jonah to the “enormously big city” of Nineveh. Three days to go through it. No wonder poor Jonah headed off in the opposite direction, seeking smallness, safe and sound. But God doesn’t call us to smallness. “You kingdom come” we pray; let’s work for it.

In this holy time,

a time of grace, Lord,

awaken kingdom dreams in us,

save us from dreaming too small.

You came to Jonah a second time,


send us into Nineveh

as your presence there.

For a homily.