Jonah and the Prayer

In today’s reading, Jonah receives the word from the Lord and immediately makes ready. Makes ready to flee, that is! To flee away from the Lord!

I wonder why Jonah so quickly ran away from God. I’m wondering if he heard “Nineveh” and thought, “Heck no, no way I’m going there!” I wonder if he thought, “There’s no way I’m doing that! I’m no preacher!” Maybe he was afraid of the city, the people there, or maybe he feared failure. Maybe he was unforgiving and didn’t want God to have mercy on that city. Regardless, Jonah fled “away from the Lord,” but it’s not so effective to try to run away from God.

We all know the story, but what I’m most struck by is Jonah’s prayer of thanksgiving, which we read as today’s Psalm, that he prays while still in the belly of the fish! Jonah prays to God in anticipation for saving his life, thanking God and praising Him for rescuing him which God had not yet completely done at the time Jonah was making that prayer! (I don’t know if I’d be so grateful to God if I were being digested by a fish/whale for even three seconds . . .) And yet it is Jonah’s faith and confidence that he knows God will save him that is a witness to us. It is a very powerful form of prayer to confidently thank and praise God for His mercy in our lives even before He has worked those miracles in us. I think that kind of prayer greatly pleases God’s heart. Jonah may have run away from the Lord, but he sure knew how to pray and he sure knew how to allow his life experiences to bring him conversion!

Jonah’s story is a story of God’s mercy. It is a story of compassion like the story of the Good Samaritan in today’s Gospel. Through the sacraments, it is Jesus who is our Good Samaritan who pours wine and oil over us, and bandages up our wounds. God can and will use all of our life experiences for good, whether it is our sins of turning away from God like Jonah, or our wounds from others or from life experiences like the man in the Gospel. God is writing a beautiful story with you. What’s your story?

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What is the story of God’s mercy in your life? How can you give thanks and praise today for His deliverance? Can you dare to praise and thank God in anticipation for the miracles He has not yet worked in your life?