“The people of Nineveh will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for Jonah’s preaching made them turn from their sins, and here, there is greater than Jonah.“
Repent and believe in the Gospel
The second formula used during the giving of ashes on Ash Wednesday is “Repent and believe in the Gospel.“ This formula reminds us of our call to repentance. Jonah in the Old Testament was sent to Nineveh to preach repentance. Jonah actually did not want to obey Yahweh. No! He wanted instead to pray that Nineveh, the city of their persecutors be destroyed! (Jonah was not yet taught the Lord’s Prayer!) But still God made a way so that Jonah would preach to the Ninevites and they would repent!
On the other hand, in the Gospel today Jesus commiserates on how the Jews of his own time have one greater than Jonah preaching to them about repentance and yet they turn a deaf ear. So Jesus speaks of a severe judgment on the Jews who refuse to heed his call to repentance.
San Juan de Dios, our Saint of today, lived a very troubled life before his conversion. He had been a shepherd, soldier of fortune, and many odd occupations before he heard the Gospel that converted him in his 40s. Once he had seen the light of the Gospel he gave his life to the care of the sick, especially the mentally ill, as he himself had suffered some mental illness. He dedicated his life for the sick establishing the Brothers Hospitallers of St. John, who care for the sick. He repented and believed in the Gospel! May we repent and believe in the Good News!