But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. And now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” And the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?”
Then Jonah went out of the city and sat down east of the city, and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, waiting to see what would become of the city. The Lord God appointed a bush, and made it come up over Jonah, to give shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort; so Jonah was very happy about the bush. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the bush, so that it withered.
When the sun rose, God prepared a sultry east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint and asked that he might die. He said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?” And he said, “Yes, angry enough to die.”
Then the Lord said, “You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labor and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?”
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.
Jonah was so focused on his own desires that even though he was following God’s will, he was angry when things didn’t go his way. God pardoned the nation that Jonah wanted to see destroyed. He was so overcome with hatred that he wished to die instead of seeing his enemy live.
How often do we hear it preached to love your enemies, practice mercy, and welcome the stranger? But how quick are we to judge when things don’t go the way we want. It’s easy to follow God’s will if we get what we want. But what if we don’t get the results we desire?
Can we relate this story to a person or group that we do not like? How do we respond when we see them receive the same mercy that God extends to ourselves? How might we try to respond differently in those cases?
—Sam Mauck is the Director of Youth, Campus, and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Memphis, which is a member of the Charis Ministries partner program.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
—Peace Prayer of St. Francis of AssisiPlease share the Good Word with your friends!