Feast of St John XXIII


Jonah 4: 1-11
Luke 11: 1-4


In our first reading in today’s liturgy, we meet Jonah having a very honest dialogue with God. He is frustrated that God whom he recognises is ‘full of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger and rich in graciousness,’ should be so forgiving towards the Ninevites. He has no problem with God being tender and compassionate towards himself. His problem with God seems to be the fact that God relents, or changes his mind. God is not consistent!! Is this because Jonah thinks God’s mercy is not for the heathens and should be limited to those who are considered righteous! Jonah had prophesied to the Ninevites about God’s judgement of their actions and now God had changed his mind! Jonah cannot agree with God in this matter.

How often do we operate out of this same mindset? It can happen in families when one parent thinks a child should be chastised and the other parent is more lenient. How often do we hear judgements about people receiving asylum or refugee status when they are perceived as ‘queue jumpers?’ If we are honest there are times when we can all be like Jonah especially when we have worked tirelessly and someone else gets the credit or the reward?! We have only to think about the elder brother in Jesus’ story of the Prodigal son.

Jonah’s dissatisfaction with God’s mercy brings him to a place of deep doubt, such that he wants to end his life. Jonah reminds us that oftentimes when people fall into doubt and despair about themselves or with their life experience that they want to escape and sadly many do seek to end their lives. However, Jonah also helps us to know that in our moments of doubt we can argue with God and God listens and responds with compassion. God has compassion for all creation and we too are encouraged to act for the future of all creation.

In our very brief Gospel from Luke, we are reminded of the need to pray ‘your kingdom come’ and especially to pray that we will grow into the mind of God able to offer forgiveness to one another. We do trust that God really does care for us, walks with us and invites us to walk with one another as one human community. Now we may say taking the synodal journey. We do that one step at a time with hope in our hearts. Let’s not lose heart.

Sr. Brigid Murphy CP
Sisters of the Cross & Passion,