Wednesday Week 1 of Lent

OK What is the sign of Jonah … and why does Jesus claim it as his own sign?
Well the first reading narrates the nub of the thing—Jonah preached and the people of Nineveh jumped to it and repented, lock, stock, barrel—kids and cattle too. Is this the only sign for this generation? That Jesus will preach and the world will experience wave after wave of conversion?
I think more pertinent is who it is that hears and repents. Jonah was so angry at God’s call to go to Nineveh that he high-tailed it off in the other direction. Nineveh is the enemy. At the very least Nineveh is outside the flock, just gentiles. Let them rot in their sin.
When the fish-eaten prophet eventually gets there and mumbles his message against his will the whole city turn to God in their droves. And maybe that’s the experience of the early Jesus people. Gentiles in their droves were turning to God. Is this the sign of Jonah which Jesus claims as his own?
Let’s say it is for a moment. What does it say to us 2000 years on? Maybe just this: don’t be surprised if today the ones who hear and turn to God are not the ones inside the fold but the ones on the edge, on the outside, outside the churches. Don’t be surprised and don’t resent it—only look, only listen, only learn.