In order to really appreciate and relish the full impact of today’s passage from the prophet Jonah we need to consider it in context of the entire book of Jonah. It would be well worth your time to blow the dust off your bible if you haven’t opened it lately, and read the entire book.
The story has three major parts of which today’s reading is the middle section. In the first section God tells Jonah go to Nineveh and tell the people to straighten up and stop their evil deeds or they will be destroyed. Jonah, like all good Jews, hated the Ninevites and would have been delighted to see them destroyed. He goes off on a sea journey to avoid doing God’s will and ends where he is so often pictured, in the belly of a whale, who delivered him to Nineveh where God wanted him to go in the first place. God’s desire will ultimately happen whether we want it or not. The best part of having wisdom is the ability to accept God’s will humbly and lovingly knowing it is for our good.
The second section of today’s reading tells us that rather surprisingly the people of Nineveh accepted and believed in God’s warming delivered by Jonah. God did not punish them. Our God is merciful God ever ready to forgive completely any of our wrongdoings the moment that we are sorry for them.
The third section, Jonah starts home. Hot and tired the sits in the shade of a lovely tree to refresh himself. Worms attack the tree and almost instantly it dies and Jonah is very sad. In effect God said,” Jonah, you weren’t sad when you thought I was going to wipe out all the people of Nineveh and now you’re grieving over the death of this tree. You don’t understand me. Of all the things on the earth people are the most dear to me, especially the sinners.”
There are truths we can take home with us from Jonah’s story.
First: God, I know that your will for me is for my good and for the people in my life.
Second: God, I believe that you forgive and forget all of the evil I have ever done the moment I am sorry, and
Third: God, I know that all people are precious to you, including myself and the people I don’t like.
If we can not say these words then perhaps today’s readings could be meditated on in the privacy of your homes. God bless you and remember to get out bibles and make good use of them.
God bless you all !
Your brother in Christ.