St. Melodios on Nineveh’s repentance
Let us meditate on the Ninevites (…), let us listen to what they did. After the terrifying proclamation made by Jonah before this gluttonous and drunken people (…), like capable workmen they made hast to restore the city their evil deeds had destroyed, taking a sure rock for its foundation (…): repentance.
After washing away its filth in the floods of their tears, they adorned their town with their prayer and converted Nineveh pleased the Merciful One. For she immediately showed forth the beauty of her heart to “him who searches the heart” (Ps 7:10) (…); anointed with the oil of their good deeds, perfumed with fasting, she returned to the One who loves her (…) and he embraced her repentance.
Its king, a wise man, (…) prepared animals and flocks as if to bring them along in dowry, saying: “O God, my Savior, I offer everything to you: only reconcile, bring back in grace, the one who prostituted herself and betrayed (…) your purity, for see how, in her love, she offers her repentance to you like a gift (…).
“If I, the sovereign king, have sinned then strike me down alone and take pity on all these others. But if we have all fallen short, hear the voices of all (…) May your help come upon us and all fear will be dissolved. Nothing will dismay us if you receive what we are offering, our repentance (…).
“Rebellious Nineveh throws herself at your feet and I, a miserable king and your wretched servant, sit down in ashes since I am unworthy of my throne (Joh 3:6). Because I have scorned the crown I throw dust on my head. Because I am not worthy of my purple I have put on sackcloth and burst into lamentation. Therefore, do not despise me, cast a glance upon us, O my Savior, and accept our repentance.”
Son of the One God, O only God, who carry out the will of those who love you, protect them in your mercy (…) As in former days you took pity on the Ninevites (…) so today release from judgment those who sing to you and grant me forgiveness in return for my confession (…) Since I have no works worthy of your glory, at least save me, my Savior, for my words of contrition, you who love repentance.Saint Romanos Melodios (?-c 560), Hymn “Nineveh” § 4-17; SC 99, via DGO