Jonah

 Chapter 1

1-16

Chapter 2

1-11

 

Jonah1:1-16; 2:1-11 He had his entire life in order; he served the Lord, perhaps he even prayed a great deal. He was a prophet, a good man and he did much good”. Yet “he didn’t want to be disturbed in the way of life he had chosen; when he heard the word of God he sought to escape. And he fled from God”. Therefore, when “the Lord sent him to Ninevah, he boarded a ship to Spain. He was fleeing from the Lord”.

In the end, Jonah had already written his own story: “I want to be like this, this and this, according to the commandments”. He did not want to be disturbed. This is why he fled from God. We, too, can be tempted to flee. We can run away from God, as a Christian, as a Catholic, and even “as a priest, bishop or Pope”. We can all flee from God. This is a daily temptation: not to listen to God, not to hear his voice, not to hear his promptings, his invitation in our hearts.

Although we may make a direct getaway, there are also more subtle and sophisticated ways of fleeing from God. St Luke 10:25-37. A certain man, half dead, who had been thrown into the street. Now by chance a priest was going down that road. A good priest, in his cassock: good, very good. He saw him and looked: I'll be late for Mass, and he went on his way. He didn't hear the voice of God there. It was, different from Jonah’s escape, Jonah was clearly fleeing. Then a Levite passed by, he saw [the man half dead] and perhaps he thought: If I take care of him or go close to him, perhaps he is dead and tomorrow I’ll have to go to the judge to give testimony, and so he passed by on the other side. He was fleeing from the voice of God in that man.

It is curious to note that only a man “who habitually fled from God, a sinner”, the Samaritan, was the very one who “perceived the voice of God”. He “drew near” to the man. “He bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast. Oh how much time he lost: he brought him to an inn, and took care of him. He lost the whole evening!”. In the meantime, “the priest arrived in time for the Holy Mass and all the faithful were content. The next day, the Levite had a peaceful day and spent it just as he had planned” since he didn't have to go to the judge.

And why, did Jonah flee from God? Why did the priest flee from God? Why did the Levite flee from God?”. Because “their hearts were closed”. When your heart is closed you cannot hear the voice of God. Instead, it was a Samaritan on a journey “who saw” the wounded man and “had compassion. His heart was opened, he had a human heart. His humanity enabled him to draw near.

Jonah had a plan for his life: he wanted to write his own history well, according to God’s ways. But he was the one writing it, the same with the priest, the same with the Levite. However, “this other sinner allowed God to write the history of his life. He changed all his plans that evening” because the Lord placed before him “this poor, wounded man who had been thrown out onto the street”.

I ask myself and I also ask you: do we allow God to write the history of our lives or do we want to write it? This speaks to us of docility: are we docile to the Word of God? Yes, I want to be docile, but are you able to listen to his Word, to hear it? Are you able to find the Word of God in the history of each day, or do your ideas so govern you that you do not
allow the Lord to surprise you and speak to you?”.

I am sure, that all of us today are saying ... the Priest and the Levite were
selfish. It's true: the Samaritan, the sinner, did not flee from God!”. And so I ask that the “the Lord grant that we may hear his voice which says to us: Go and do likewise.
  

 Chapter 3

1-10

 
Pope Francis   08.10.19  Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)         Jonah 3: 1-10 
 
Pope Francis  08.10.19 Jonah
The first liturgical reading of today (Jonah 3: 1-10 ), taken from the book of the prophet Jonah, continues the story that began yesterday, and which will end tomorrow, in which the conflicting relationship between God and Jonah is described.

In the previous passage we read that the Lord's first call was that he wanted to send the prophet to Ninevah to preach repentance to that city. But Jonah disobeyed the command and ran away from God, because that task was too difficult for him. He had then embarked for Tarshish, and during a storm aroused by the Lord he had been thrown overboard to calm the furious storm. A whale that swallowed him, threw him out on the shore after three days, an image that reminds us of Christ’s Resurrection on the third day.

In todays reading (Jonah 3: 1-10) there is the second call: God speaks to Jonah again and this time Jonah obeys God, goes to preach to the Ninevites who convert and God relents from punishing them. This time the "stubborn Jonah" did his job well and then he left.

Tomorrow we will see how the story ends and that Jonah is angry at the Lord because he is too merciful and because He does the opposite of what he had threatened to do.

Jonah scolds the Lord: "Lord, wasn't that what I said when I was in my country? This is why I fled at first to Tarshish. because I knew that you are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, of great love, and that you reconsider threatened punishment. Therefore, Lord, take my life: I do not want to work with you anymore, because it is better for me to die than to live. It is better to die than to continue this work as a prophet with you, that in the end you do the opposite of what you sent me to do.

Saying this, Jonah goes out of the city and builds a hut from there waits to see what the Lord will do. Jonah hoped that God would destroy the city. The Lord then makes a gourd plant grow over the prophet to provide him shade. But soon God causes the plant to wither and die.

Jonah is once again outraged at God over the gourd plant. Do you have pity for a plant, the Lord tells him, for which you have made no effort and I should not have pity on a great city like Ninevah?

The heated exchange between the Lord and Jonah is between two hardheads.

Jonah is stubborn with his convictions of faith, and the Lord is stubborn in His mercy. He never leaves us, he knocks on the door of the heart till the end. He’s always there.

Jonah was stubborn because he put conditions on his faith. Jonah is the model of those
Christians who always put conditions saying, "I am a Christian on condition that things are done this way." - " No, no, these changes are not Christian" - "This is heresy" - "This is not right" ...They are Christians who condition God, who condition the faith and the action of God.

It is this "as long as" that keeps so many Christians in their own ideas and end up in ideology: it is the bad path from faith to ideology. And today there are so many. These Christians are afraid: to grow up, to the challenges of life, of the challenges of the Lord, of the challenges of history, attached to their convictions, in their first convictions, in their own ideologies. They are Christians who prefer ideology to faith and distance themselves from the community, are afraid to put themselves in God's hands and prefer to judge everything, but from the smallness of their hearts.

The story of Jonah presents two figures of
the Church today. The Church of those ideologues who squat in their own ideologies, there, and the church that shows the Lord who approaches all situations without disgust. Things do not disgust the Lord, our sins don’t disgust. He approaches as He approached to caress the lepers and the sick. Because He came to heal, He came to save, not to condemn.