The first reading is the conclusion of the book of the prophet Jonah. Jonah is sent by God to Nineveh to call the sinful Ninevites to conversion. He goes reluctantly, and lo and behold, they convert and repent of their wickedness, so God does not inflict the disaster he has threatened to do. But the prophet becomes indignant and protests against God’s merciful and forgiving ways.
How ironic this situation is, yet we are sometimes like Jonah. When somebody we dislike or despise starts to reform his life and ends up doing good, sometimes we do not rejoice at this turn of events. We are so lacking in kindness, especially to people whom we do not like. We would prefer that God punish the sinner rather than forgive him. But God is our complete opposite. He is always ready to forgive sinful men when they turn back to Him. His desire is to save all men, and His mercy and compassion are always available to everyone.
Let us pray to be kind and merciful as God wants us to be, so that when the time comes to ask forgiveness for our own sins, He will readily give it to us.