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.





Pope Francis  14.05.20  Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)     Thursday of the Fifth Week of Easter      Jonah 3: 1-10

Pope Francis Prays for an end to the Pandemic 14.05.20

The Higher Committee for Human Fraternity called for a day of prayer and fasting today, to ask God for mercy at this tragic time of the pandemic. We are all brothers and sisters. St. Francis of Assisi said: "All brothers and sisters." And for this reason, men and women of every religious denomination unite today in prayer and penance to ask for the grace of healing from this pandemic.

In the first Reading we heard the story of Jonah, in a style of the time. Since there was "some pandemic", we do not know, in the city of Nineveh, a "moral pandemic" perhaps, the city was about to be destroyed (Jonah 3: 1-10). And God sends Jonah to preach to them: prayer and penance, prayer and fasting (3: 7-8). In the face of that pandemic, Jonah was frightened and ran away (Jonah 1: 1-3). Then the Lord called him for the second time, and he agreed to go and preach (Jonah 3: 1-2). And today all of us, brothers and sisters of every religious tradition, pray: a day of prayer and fasting, of penance, called by the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity. Each of us prays, communities pray, religious denominations pray, they pray to God: all brothers and sisters, united in the brotherhood that unites us in this time of suffering and tragedy.

We weren't expecting this pandemic, it came most unexpectedly, but now it's here. And a lot of people are dying. So many people die alone and so many people die without being able to do anything. Many times the thought can come: "It hasn't affected me, thank God I'm saved." But think of the others! Think about the tragedy and also the economic consequences, the consequences for education, the consequences... what happens next. And for this reason today, all of us, brothers and sisters, of every religious denomination, pray to God. Perhaps there will be someone who will say, "This is religious relativism and it cannot be done." But how can we not pray to the Father of all? Everyone prays as he knows, how he can, according to his own culture. We are not praying against each other, this religious tradition against this, no! We are all united as human beings, as brothers and sisters, praying to God, according to our own culture, according to our own tradition, according to our own beliefs, but brothers and sisters and praying to God, this is the important thing! Brothers and sisters fasting together, asking God for forgiveness for our sins, so that the Lord may have mercy on us, may the Lord forgive us, may the Lord stop this pandemic. Today is a day of fraternity, looking towards the one Father, brothers and sisters and fatherhood. A day of prayer.

We, last year, indeed in November last year, did not know what a pandemic was: it came like a flood, it came suddenly. We're waking up a little bit now. But there are so many other pandemics that make people die and we don't notice, we look the other way. We are a little unconscious in the face of the tragedies that are happening in the world right now. I would just like to tell you an official statistic from the first four months of this year, which does not mention the coronavirus pandemic, it speaks of another. In the first four months of this year, 3.7 million people died of starvation. There is the pandemic of hunger. In four months, almost 4 million people. This prayer today to ask the Lord to stop this pandemic, must make us think of the other pandemics in the world. There are so many! The pandemic of wars, hunger and many others. But the important thing is that today - together and thanks to the courage that this Higher Committee for Human Fraternity had - together, we were invited to pray each according to their own tradition and to make this a day of penance, fasting and also charity, to help others. That's the important thing. In the book of Jonah we heard that the Lord, when he saw how the people had reacted, had converted, the Lord stopped, stopped what He wanted to do.

May God stop this tragedy, stop this pandemic. May God have mercy on us and stop the other awful pandemics: of hunger, of war, of children without education. And we ask him as brothers and sisters all together. May God bless all of us and have mercy on us.