Scripture: 1st Reading: Jonah1:1-17;2:1,10; Resp. Psalm: Jonah2,2-4,7; Gosp. Accl.: Jn13,34; Gospel: Lk10,25-37
God gave the word. Jonah refused the word. God wanted Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach so that Nineveh might be saved. God wanted to exercise the prerogative of His mercy. Jonah had his ideas and wanted to impose them on God. Jonah wanted to flee from the presence of the Lord.
Jonah's refusal of his commission could have been informed by the fact that he felt Nineveh deserved no pity. It could also have been as a result of his being overwhelmed by the mandate Yahweh was giving him. He could also have refused because he just did not want to be bothered and thought Yahweh should do His work alone and leave him in peace.
While Jonah was doing this, Yahweh sat in heaven and laughed at Jonah. Jonah decided to run away from the commission he was given; he decided to abandon the work and go to a different city and lie low until the storm passed by. Jonah forgot he was dealing with the Lord of the storm. Jonah forgot that the heavens and the earth belong to God and that if he climbed the heavens, God was there, if he went down to the abyss, God was there too because everything belongs to Him.
God needed only to command the wind, one of the elements He created, to bring Jonah to his senses, teach him a lesson he would never forget that man is nothing in His presence and re-direct him back to the mission he was abandoning. The ship in which he was fleeing was threatening to break up into pieces. It was then the other people on the ship cast lots to know who was bringing the evil upon them and the lot fell on Jonah. They then threw him overboard and the sea quieted.
This calming of the sea and the events leading to it so deeply moved the people on the ship that they feared the Lord, offers a sacrifice to Him and made a vow. God achieved two purposes here: re-direct Jonah back on course as He only knows best and bring about the manifestation of His power that led to a radical change in the lives of those on the ship with Jonah.
Yahweh wanted Nineveh to be saved but Jonah did not believe Nineveh deserved mercy. Yahweh wanted to offer Nineveh a chance again. He wanted to be merciful on the people of this great city. Our Lord offered this to the people during His earthly ministry. Today He offered it to the lawyer who came to Him to inquire what He needed to do to inherit eternal life. With the parable of the good Samaritan, our Lord taught him that he needed to be neighbour to any one who needed his attention.
In contrast to Jonah, the good Samaritan in today's parable was merciful to the man who fell among thieves. The good Samaritan, by having pity on the man who fell among brigands thereby saving his life in the process, is a true representation of Yahweh, who had pity on the Ninevites and saved them from perishing.
By this parable, our Lord taught the lawyer never to neglect to do his duty by putting forward excuses. He instructed him by this parable that he needed to put on the most profound manifestation of humanity and fellow feeling. He used the parable to teach him that he needed to put himself always in the shoes of the one in need to feel how it pinched.
With this parable, our Lord taught us that for us to get to heaven, we need to do practical things and take practical steps. We need to put our feet firmly on the ground and realize that whatsoever we do to anyone in need, we do to Him. We need to understand that our heaven will not be determined only by our looking up to heaven all the time but by looking down on earth and putting the precepts of the word of God and our faith into concrete action in favour of those God created in His image and likeness. Just as He said to the lawyer today, He says likewise to each of us: "Go and do likewise."
Let us pray: O Lord our merciful Father, you teach us daily by your word. We thank you for the power contained in it. Strengthen us by the power of your word to live lives of holiness. Give us the grace, courage and love we lack in our lives to always be present to our brothers and sisters in their moments of need. Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.