Monday, January 25, 2010

Fast of Nineveh 2010, January 25-27

This three-day fast, observed in both East and West Syrian traditions, commemorates the reluctant mission of Jonah to the city of Nineveh. In the story, Jonah spends three days and three nights in the belly of the "fish". Jesus refers to his own time in the tomb as "the sign of Jonah". Once Jonah gets it together and actually preaches to the Ninevites, they fast for three days and three nights in repentance, much to Jonah's chagrin. While the book of Jonah is inspired fiction, it is indeed INSPIRED, telling the story of an all-too-human prophet who is bound by the prejudices and cultural limitations of his time and place, but who is, nonetheless, a genuine prophet, and is used by God in spite of himself.

In the ACCA, the pre-Lenten season begins with the Fourth to Last Sunday of Theophany, which commemorates all departed priests. This year, this Sunday occurred yesterday. The Fast of Nineveh then occupies the next three days, Monday through Wednesday, so this Fast begins today and continues through Wednesday.

We in the ACCA have used this fast to pray especially for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ who remain in the Middle East. This year, let us also pray for those who suffer in Haiti and let us assist both in any way we can. One easy way to help ease the suffering in Haiti is to text the word Haiti to 90999. This will donate 10 dollars to the Red Cross for Haitian relief which will be charged to your cell phone bill.


† Clement said...

OK. You got me.

When/how/who decided that the Book of the Prophet Jonah is "inspired fiction" ?


FrGregACCA said...

Well, for starters, the fact that the Fathers interpret the story allegorically is an implicit acknowledgment that it is fiction.

Today, virtually all non-fundamentalist scholars would accept that Jonah is fiction, not only because in the story, a man survives in the belly of a "big fish" for an extended period, but also because the description of Nineveh is clearly exaggerated and doesn't fit anywhere historically. See the "Jerome Biblical Commentary" for more.

Why would we assume that the Lord would not inspire fiction? In the New Testament, Jesus tells parables and they are clearly fiction.