This is the word of the Lord that came to Jonah, son of Amittai: “Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and preach against it; their wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah made ready to flee to Tarshish away from the Lord. He went down to Joppa, found a ship going to Tarshish, paid the fare, and went aboard to journey with them to Tarshish, away from the Lord.
The Lord, however, hurled a violent wind upon the sea, and in the furious tempest that arose the ship was on the point of breaking up. Then the mariners became frightened and each one cried to his god. To lighten the ship for themselves, they threw its cargo into the sea. Meanwhile, Jonah had gone down into the hold of the ship, and lay there fast asleep. The captain came to him and said, “What are you doing asleep? Rise up, call upon your God! Perhaps God will be mindful of us so that we may not perish.”
Then they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots to find out on whose account we have met with this misfortune. So they cast lots, and thus singled out Jonah. “Tell us,” they said, “what is your business? Where do you come from? What is your country, and to what people do you belong?” Jonah answered them, “I am a Hebrew, I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”
Now the men were seized with great fear and said to him, “How could you do such a thing! They knew that he was fleeing from the Lord, because he had told them. They asked, “What shall we do with you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea was growing more and more turbulent. Jonah said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea, that it may quiet down for you; since I know it is because of me that this violent storm has come upon you.”
Still the men rowed hard to regain the land, but they could not, for the sea grew ever more turbulent. Then they cried to the Lord: “We beseech you, O Lord, let us not perish for taking this man’s life; do not charge us with shedding innocent blood, for you, Lord, have done as you saw fit.” Then they took Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea’s raging abated.
Struck with great fear of the Lord, the men offered sacrifice and made vows to him. But the Lord sent a large fish, that swallowed Jonah; and Jonah remained in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. From the belly of the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD, his God. Then the Lord commanded the fish to spew Jonah upon the shore.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translation
Jonah actually buys a ticket and gets on a boat to flee the Lord and the call to preach against Nineveh. It was just too tough an assignment!
What if Pope Francis had declined the call/invitation/election to become Pope? “I am too old, I have already done my part, it is just too big of a job at this point in my life.” He had plenty of good reasons to decline God’s invitation. Oh, what we would have missed!
We are not simply observers, but actual players on the stage of salvation history. We have unique talents and contributions which the world needs. Most often it is hard to imagine this is the case and scary when we take it seriously.
God works through you and me to make his love known in the world. Step up, trust in God, and let love begin. If we don’t do this, we put others in danger of never knowing God’s love.
—David McNulty works for the Midwest Jesuits. Dave and his wife Judy are grandparents of six.
In you, O Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame.
In your justice set me free. Into your hands I commend my spirit,
you will redeem me, O Lord.
My trust is in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.”
Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your kindness.
Take courage and be stout-hearted, all you who hope in the Lord.
—Psalm 31. New American Bible, © 1970, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.Please share the Good Word with your friends!