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The Book of Jonah tells the story of the unlikely Hebrew prophet of the see name. Sent by God to prophesy the destruction of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire, so that the enemies of Israel might repent and change there ways, Jonah refuses to do God’s will. While the story has become mostly known for the large fish or whale (only mentioned twice in the story); the book is primarily about the vastness of God’s compassion and extraordinary love. Jonah questions God’s decisions, believing God is too lenient on wicked people who should be destroyed rather than redeemed. As we hear his story, wether we consider it historical or metaphorical, we have to question our own relationships with others, expectations of God’s compassion and acceptance of God’s radical plan for universal redemption.
Luke, tells his gospel version of the life of Jesus for Greek-speaking people, who were primarily Gentile, or non-Jewish. Today’s gospel sections lay the groundwork for seeing Jesus as that Messiah, and include some parables about his reign.
Jonah would rather die than see the Assyrians repent and turn to God. Rather than celebrating in the extraordinary life-changing compassion of God, Jonah wants to see God wipe out these former these tyrannical brutes who have persecuted the people of God in the past. In his bitterness, righteous anger and theological disgust he has no room for grace, forgiveness or redemption. Where he wants the universe to be black and white, God illustrates that it’s also grey, undecided, unfolding and dynamic. Theologically the story of Jonah asks us how we respond to those we disagree with politically, in this hyper-polarized electoral age? What about those we deem to be racist, homophobic, or accommodating or captive to hyper-politicized correctness? At what point in our perspectives and judgments do we refuse to let God be God, desiring for the divine to think like us?
Questions for the Practice of Examen & Contemplation
original artwork by Scott Erickson @ scottericksonart.com