I remember where I first heard the story of Jonah and the whale. It was part of an old Abbott and Costello routine on their television show; not as famous as "Who's on first" but a great skit none the less.
The book of Jonah is really short, three chapters totalling 48 verses, its a single page (back and front) in my New American Bible. It's the eighth book from the rear of the Old Testament and a really quick and somewhat humorous read!
Today's selection (Jonah 3:1-10) is such a great piece. Nineveh is described as a city so large "it took three days to go through it." After only one day the people repent and the king and all the people humble themselves before the Lord. God repents of his action and Jonah is annoyed! He tells God that that's exactly why he didn't want to go in the first place! "I knew that you are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, rich in clemency, loathe to punish."
The Gospel (Lk. 11:29-32) for this Wednesday of the First Week of Lent, quotes Jesus as speaking about Nineveh and Jonah. He also identifies himself as the Messiah, if you pay close attention to what he says and what he doesn't say. He's upset because the people are looking for a sign, and they can't see who or what is directly in front of them. He says it quite plainly but they don't hear. They already have their minds made up and nothing he can say or do will change them. They look for a sign, a miracle, so that they can be in charge. Jonah learned much from God about His mercy and love. I hope we can learn more about Him as well this Lent.
God bless you!