Sermon By St. John Chrysostom Read after the Liturgy's Gospel On Monday; the first day of Nineveh’s fast

Sermon 50

By St. John Chrysostom (The Golden Mouth)

Read after the Liturgy's Gospel

On Monday; the first day of Nineveh’s fast.

Includes an exhortation to repentance and was inspired by the Lord's commandment to Jonah the Prophet: "Arise, go to Nineveh …"         [Jonah 1: 1-16]

Also, Jonah is mentioned in the Bible’s New Testament:

"The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonahishere.” [Matthew 12:41]

Oh what a great and terrifying voice that was calling on Jonah the son of Amittai: "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me".

Listen dear beloved to this saying. What a great one it is! And how dreadful is this fear:  what a terrifying and frightening threat for the hearts of the ones afraid of such a sentence!

Open up your hearts and listen and discern with your minds the meanings of the Lordly books, as well as the words He spoke through His prophets and apostles.

When Prophet Jonah realized God's mercy, he rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of God. He went down to Joppa and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof and went down into it.

But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. They finally cast Prophet Jonah too forth into the sea, and the sea ceased from her raging. A great whale swallowed Jonah and he was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

This had been arranged by the Lord as part of the prophecies about Christ Jesus and His burial in the ground for three days and three nights. Then the Bible says He went down to hell [1 Samuel 28: 11-14] to deliver those who were detained with Adam's sin [Ephesians 4:9].

Behold the clemencies of our Lord and how abundant they are! For He has become incarnate, endured sufferings and burial before resurrection – He takes such good care of us.

We should accordingly listen to His words and remember His commandments; while asking for His clemencies at all times; as He is so generous and kind and resents it when we do not ask for His mercy. For He bestows His goods to those who ask for them, as He said "On the last day, that greatdayof the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying,“If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. " [John 7:37] and "Whoeverissimple, let him turn in here!”[Proverbs 9:4]. What great mercy!

From inside the great fish, Jonah prayed to the Lord his God: "Then Jonah prayed to theLordhis God from the fish’s belly.And he said: “I cried out to theLordbecause of my affliction,and He answered me. “Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, AndYou heard my voice. For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the floods surrounded me; All Your billows and Your waves passed over me.Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight; Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’The waters surrounded me,evento my soul; The deep closed around me; Weeds were wrapped around my head.  I went down to the moorings of the mountains; The earth with its barsclosedbehind me forever; Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, OLord, my God.“When my soul fainted within me, I remembered theLord; And my prayer wentupto You, Into Your holy temple.“Those who regard worthless idols Forsake their own Mercy.” [Jonah 2:1-8].

Although Jonah is a prophet, and his prayers are accepted before God for he was chosen by the Lord of the heavens and the earth, yet he got very scared while in the belly of the great fish.  What should then become of us guilty sinners? How much pleading, prayers and invocations should we submit to the Mighty Lord so that He might deliver us from our actual sins, have mercy on us and compassion?

Since the Glorified Lord has said: "And Jesus answered and said to them,“Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than allotherGalileans, because they suffered such things?I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than allother men who dwelt in Jerusalem?I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” [Luke 13:2-5] He also gave the example of the fig tree and that the Lord of the vineyard wanted to cut down for it bore no fruits for three years. So the man who took care of the vineyard asked him to leave it alone for one more year, and he shall dig around it and fertilize it; "“A certainmanhad a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none.Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilizeit.And if it bears fruit,well.But if not, after thatyou can cut it down.’” [Luke 13:6-9].

What does this example mean? By the fig tree, He means all the sinners, while the fruits are the good deeds. The man who takes care of the vineyard is Christ or His inheritors and the Lord of the vineyard is our Lord the Father. The three years represent the times spent by men on this earth which are: youth, manhood and elderly age.

Let us dear beloved meditate on this saying with concentration. Let us know that our Lord gives us these examples so that we may understand, and he reminds us of His sayings so that we may hear them. We must bear the fruit of the correct faith so that we may be among His good trees in the field that he longs for – which symbolizes those who believe in His name and follow His orders.

Our path dear ones lies in our understanding of these meanings with a sound mind and vision so that our paths may be in His capable hands, and that we may continue to choose the right path.  We shall therefore obtain our Lord's mercy and be with Him in His eternal kingdom, forever in an eternal bliss with the mercy of our God, Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to Him be glory, honour, exaltation and power, now and forever. Amen.