In today's first reading, Jonah 4: 1-11, Jonah describes God as "a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, rich in clemency, [and] loathe to punish." Knowing that truth, Jonah is reluctant to carry out God's command to warn Nineveh of impending disaster, if they fail to repent. Nineveh repents and Jonah is angry with God. It's like Jonah says to God: "I knew you would relent and not punish Nineveh. That is why I did not follow your command, in the first place. And sure enough, You showed them mercy when they put on sackcloth and sat in ashes, fasting and praying for forgiveness. I knew I should not have delivered your message!" Angry, Jonah withdraws and pouts.
How often do we not act just as Jonah did! God is merciful to the persons whom we believe, beyond a doubt, deserve to be destroyed. Those persons repent and go their merry way, rejoicing in the Lord. We were sure that these persons deserved punishment but were spared. And we pout, more often than not, and feel the pain of being embarrassed, as we spouted out the evil against the penitents!
May we have the humility to come to the Lord ourselves and say: "Be merciful to me, O Lord."