But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
Jonah 1: 3a (NKJV)
For Luther "Jonah is a boring and heavy 'saint' who is angry because of God's mercy for sinners." For many he assumed the guise of the transgressor, the one who disobeys the divine orders. However, he is a beloved son of God whom he seems to turn to without inhibitions, almost without fear, but in reality he has many. The Lord does not follow and does not follow our whims. To his grievances, accompanied by an escape in the opposite direction to Tarsis, God does not reject him with superficiality, but continues to follow him, and to call him to "fight with him" to bring him back to his responsibilities. God wants Jonah to find his prophetic calling going beyond the convictions and false certainties that his environment and the traditions of the time impose on him. Jonah (and us with him) is challenged to welcome those whom he himself had excluded, coming to terms with God's mercy unacceptable to him.
In the times of Jesus, as today, many were looking for a sign, a miracle or a divine indication. As people crowded around him, he began to say, "This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet" (Luke 11:29 NKJV). The text of Luke tells us that strangers such as the Queen of Sheba and the Ninevites have valued the revelation of God without seeing any supernatural manifestation. The reality is that today, as then, "this generation is evil", that is, bad in nature and in the condition. Until it is in this state, no sign will ever produce a lasting result. Without a sincere and honest awareness there will be no change. Jonah is afraid of measuring himself with the new of God, because he loves solidity, the things he already knows and boasts of the experiences already made. Only what he already knows and has approved according to his own life experience, possesses and controls. On the contrary, the new of God is to be realized, to experience and above all it is not controllable; likewise we must let ourselves go to it and be guided, as a "new one" surrendered in what is not yet understood but which will gradually be understood. To know God is to know that He is such and can not be harnessed by rules and norms.
The story of Jonah tells us that often we are first not to believe in "change/repentance". It so happens that in many churches the message of conversion is disappearing, preferring to speak of "participation". As Jonah we limit the action of God, we resist the Spirit with our convictions, we seek an alternative message to what we are sent to proclaim. Our "evil" hides, drives away and even erases the face of God. Personal matters have the upper hand over the mission received and the effect are "different signs" that deviate and alienate people. Jonah is the paradigm of the believer in the age of individualism, typical of that obtuseness of a faith that does not allow itself to be disturbed. He thinks he can live the call of God without taking care and follow the voice that drives him to go out and go. Today, the great challenge is in the duty we have to know how to accept the different. Jonah was so attached to the form of learned belief that he did not want to know different ideas. The Church, yesterday as well as today, must learn that God is not called to submit to our theology. Believers, like the prophet, must learn to go further, to live a change, a conversion to the face of God that requires a conversion to solidarity, that is, "take charge of the other and the stranger".
Weekly Bible reading plan
October 01 Isaiah 11-13; Ephesians 4
October 02 Isaiah 14-16; Ephesians 5: 1-16
October 03 Isaiah 17-19; Ephesians 5: 17-33
October 04 Isaiah 20-22; Ephesians 6
October 05 Isaiah 23-25; Philippians 1
October 06 Isaiah 26-27; Philippians 2
October 07 Isaiah 28-29; Philippians 3