Nineveh fast is the shortest of all fasts. However, it is observed
rigorously. Referring to the seeking of signs of the scribes and
Pharisees, Jesus said ". . . no sign will be given to it except the
sign of Prophet Jonah" (Mathew 12: 39-42). This has reference to the
death and burial of Jesus Christ and that Jesus will be in the tomb
for three days.
The Nineveh fast probably originated in Urhoy (Edessa) in the third
century and spread to other places. Mor Aphrem, the Syrian (d. 373)
and Jacob of Sarug (d. 522) have composed poetry about the Nineveh
fast. The Nineveh fast is a preparation to the fifty day fast.
The book of Jonah should be read and meditated on these days. Jonah
declared that Nineveh will be overthrown in forty days. The King of
Nineveh proclaimed a fast and he himself covered with sackcloth, and
sat in ashes. The people of Nineveh, beast, herd and flock observed
the fast with all severity. We read in prayers that they did not
even feed their babies. The children were asking their mothers about
when they will die? God was pleased with their penitence. Thus, God
had compassion on them and withdrew the punishment.
Christian is like the Nineveh. He / she must turn away from the wicked ways and repent. Our life is like a ship (Church). We will have to throw away the luggage of "evil things" into the sea (world/flesh) and save our life.
"When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through the
dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, I will
return to my house from which I came. And when he comes, he finds it
empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him
seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and
dwell there, and the last sate of the man is worse than the
first . . ." (Mathew 12:43-45).
Unless there is full-hearted repentance and the Holy Spirit dwells in a person, the expelled demon will return with many others and reoccupy its abode.
So be watchful and alert!
Fr. Mani Rajan