Scripture: 1st Reading: Jonah4,1-11; Resp. Psalm: Ps.86,3-6,9-10; Gosp. Accl: Rom8,15; Gospel: Lk11,1-4
Jonah was one of the strangest characters in the Bible. He was a man who knew what he wanted and went for it. But he was a man who did not recognize the limits of his powers. Jonah was also a man obsessed with punishment for the offender. He was a man who could not understand why God forgave Nineveh and spared them from the sure death that would have been the just recompense for their actions.
Jonah was a very vindictive man. He knew that if he went to Nineveh and preached, there was every possibility that the Ninevites would repent and return to God. From his statement of disappointment today, we know he did not want Nineveh to be saved. Jonah, the mortal, inconsequential man got angry with God because God decided to do what he liked. He got angry because God was slow to anger and abounding in mercy. Even after preaching to Nineveh, he still thought Nineveh might not repent.
Jonah is like many of us. We think we'd understand God that we presume to teach Him what He should do. We become angry if God does not punish and destroy the wicked. We lament at God's hand of mercy that He extends continuously towards the wretched sinners. In the miracle of the plant that God commanded from nowhere to grow over the head of Jonah to give him shade, God taught him another lesson of his life.
Yahweh commanded worms to attack this plant and Jonah became angry that his source of shade died and he was exposed to the summer heat. Yahweh told him in unmistakable language that Jonah was showing pity to the plant for which he did not labour while he was angry that He had pity for Nineveh, in which were more than a hundred and twenty thousand inhabitants.
The point of God here was simple and clear for the discerning mind: God is merciful and seeks the sinner to save him. God is moved by the plea for mercy that comes from the mouth of the sinner. God forgives when He hears this plea and gives the sinner a second chance. The holiness and awesomeness of this kind and forgiving God is what our Lord taught Him disciples about His Father in the prayer pattern He gave them as the model and exemplar of all prayers.
Apart from acknowledging the providence of God who gave them their daily bread, our Lord taught His disciples to ask for forgiveness as a reciprocation of the forgiveness that they extended to those indebted to them. Who are we following today? Whose example and teaching are we going to allow to guide us? Are we still going to continue on the destructive path of unforgiveness? Are we still going to allow these hateful passions to dominate us and dictate the course of our lives and ruin us? Or are we going to put a stop to them and be free once again?
Let us pray: God our Father, you are the God of mercy and compassion. We come before you today in our nakedness and emptiness. Clothe us with your mercy, pour your oil of healing over our wounds, heal our brokenness. Remove from our hearts all hateful feelings. Give us your grace to forgive and let go. Teach us to model our lives after the pattern of your Son's life. Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.