Jonah, in this morning reading, says to God "I knew that you are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, rich in clemency, loathe to punish". Then he proceeds to vent his anger at God for living up to those attributes instead of destroying the city of Nineveh. Mercy is the great quality of God that our Holy Father Francis constantly places before our eyes since his election. He spoke of it just yesterday in this tweet: "Mercy is the true power that can save humanity and the world from sin and evil".
We tend to rely upon the mercy of God when it comes to ourselves, but we are quick to demand justice untempered by mercy for those that offend us. We are quick to judge and even faster to condemn. Meanness and resentment and condemnation come more naturally from our lips and resides more readily in our hearts than graciousness and mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation. Yesterday on FOX on the O'Reilly Factor there was a discussion as to whether we are a mean people in the United States. The results were not clear, but it is true that without the example and directive of the gracious mercy given to us by God and affirmed in Jesus, that we are prone to anger and hardness of heart. The Lord said to Jonah "And should I not be concerned over Nineveh, the great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot distinguish their right hand from their left ... ?" God is gracious and merciful, and we are blessed because of that fact. Until we allow that fact to permeate and transform our sinful lives, we will never be able to emulate those qualities in our lives.