Commemoration of Jonah: Reluctant Prophet
Lord God, heavenly Father, through the prophet Jonah, You continued the prophetic pattern of teaching Your people the true faith and demonstrating through miracles, Your presence in creation to heal it of its brokenness. Grant that Your Church may see in Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the final end-times prophet whose teaching and miracles continue in Your Church through the healing medicine o the Gospel and the Sacrament; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
I would hazard a guess that I spent more of my childhood fishing than most people. Here’s why. I lived a few hundred yards away from a bayou in Pensacola, Florida. Many a summer, and many a morning through the long summers, my brother and I would get up early in the morning and head down to the bayou for fishing. I sat for hours on end at the end of a rickety old dock throwing out my line. What did I catch? Hardly anything, ever. An occasional “croaker” was the best I got. I’ve spent days fishing in Canada, in the Gulf of Mexico, in Pensacola Bay and I’ve never caught anything worth mentioning. Now this is not to say I’ve not hooked big fish. Oh, I’ve had some huge fish on the end of my line. I’ve gotten them so close to the dock I could see the flash of silvery scale and at the last second…snap…the line would break, or a big old ornery saltwater catfish would swim under the dock and manage to snap the line on barnacles on the pilings. Or…well, you name it. I have had some BIG fish get away. Honest. I’m not making this up. I recall fishing with one of my boys when they were very little in Canada and we got a HUGE bass almost out of the water and then, yup…you guess it… the line broke. Fish gone. Tears. “Daddy, where did the fish go?”
I was reflecting on Jonah today and thinking that Jonah certainly had a fish story to tell, about the one that didn’t get away. But the one that didn’t get away was not the fish. It was Jonah. Oh, how he tried. He was told to go and preach to the people of Ninevah and he did everything he could to get away. He jumped on a ship headed the opposite direction and God saw to it that he had the comforts of a fish belly to get him to where God wanted him to be. How many times in life have we headed out in the wrong direction, only to have God turn us back around, sometimes against our will, to get us headed back toward him?
And then I think that the one that didn’t get away was not Jonah, it was the people to whom he was called to preach. They are the ones that didn’t get away from Jonah, because they never got away from God. In spite of themselves, God was reaching and sending, teaching and preaching, yes, through that reluctant prophet, Jonah. But God saw to it that the people of Ninevah were turned around, so they would not get away from his saving love. Isn’t it great to know that, to God, you are the one that has not gotten away? Why, because of the One whose relentless love sought you out, tracked you down, and made sure you were safe and secure in His bloody hands, paying for all your sins, suffering and dying, and going where we all belong. In Jesus Christ, the ones that were getting away, didn’t, and don’t.
I really still would like, some day, to catch a big fish, on a hook and line, and reel it in and not watch it get away. Some day. But I’m glad that I’ve been caught up by the One who never lets us get away, and you have been too!