Loading
Jonah

Author: Jonah, son of Amittai

Date Written: 800-700 BC

 

Jonah, whose name means "dove," prophesied in the time of Jeroboam II, king of Israel 793-753 BC (2 Kgs 14:25).  At the time, the Assyrian Empire was threatening Israel from the north and eventually did overrun the kingdom in 722 BC. Scholars debate the date and authorship of the book of Jonah because there are so few clues as to when it was written.  It is possible it could have been written at a later time by an inspired author writing about Jonah rather than by Jonah himself.  Scholars disagree over the nature of the book of Jonah.  It may be considered an historical narrative or a fictional story.

 

The book of Jonah is a story about a prophet rather than a prophecy.  It tells the story of Jonah's rocky relationship with God.  When the Lord calls him to preach to Ninevah, Jonah immediately flees in the opposite direction, but the Lord doesn't let him off the hook so easily.  A powerful storm and a giant fish combine to thwart Jonah's plan to escape God's call.  Even the pagan sailors on their way to Tarshish turn pious in the face of disaster and begin praying and offering sacrifices to the Lord (1:16).

 

Once inside the fish, Jonah realizes his error and repents for being so impetuous.  But the drama is not over yet!  God sends his word to Jonah for the second time, asking him to go and preach to Ninevah.  Jonah reluctantly accepts.  He despised the Ninevites and resented the fact that the Lord wanted to extend his mercy to them.  But when Jonah preaches God's message, the people of Ninevah respond immediately with fasting and prayer, just like the sailors in the first part of the story.  While it seems a prophet should be ecstatic at such a response, Jonah is despondent and finds a hillside on which to sulk (4:5).

 

But again the Lord won't let Jonah off so easy.  He challenges Jonah's resentful attitude by sending a plant which gives Jonah shade and a worm that kills the plant.  Jonah's resentment is only intensified by this episode so that he becomes "angry enough to die." (4:9)  But the Lord explains that his attitude contradicts the merciful heart of the God he represents.  The story ends before we hear Jonah's response, but we can accept the Lord's challenge to Jonah as a challenge to us.

 

Do we have attitudes that contradict God's mercy?  Do we run from the Lord when he calls us?  Do we do his will only with reluctance?  The message of the book confronts us with our sinfulness as we see our own faults in Jonah's heart.  Ironically, the people who really "got the message" were the sailors and Ninevites, not the prophet God sent to them!

 

Jesus looks back to Jonah as a type or foreshadowing of himself (Matt 12, 16; Luke 11).  The Church fathers continued Jesus' line of thought by comparing how Jonah brought a message of salvation to the Gentiles after leaving the fish's belly and Jesus brought the message of the Gospel for the Gentiles after leaving the tomb.

 

The story of Jonah teaches us respond to God's call and to widen our perspective to embrace the Lord's plan for others even when it contradicts our assumptions or selfish desires.

 

By Mark Giszczak

Ads by Google
(What's this?)

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic
Apr
18

Liturgical Calendar

April 18, 2014

Friday of the Passion of the Lord (Good Friday)

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Jn 18:1 - 19:42

Gospel
Date
04/18/14
04/17/14
04/16/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Is 52:13-53:12
Second Reading:: Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9
Gospel:: Jn 18:1-19:42

Homily of the Day

Jn 18:1 - 19:42

Homily
Date
04/18/14
04/17/14
04/16/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: