Since childhood I have been fascinated by the Jonah story in the book of Jonah. In The first reading God is asking Jonah for the second time to preach the message that God will give him. The first time Jonah refuses to do God’s will he flees to Jaffa and boards a ship to Tarshish. A violent storm comes up and Jonah advises the sailors to throw him overboard and the storm will subside. Eventually the sailors take Jonah’s advice and throw him overboard and the storm subsides. Jonah spends 3 days in the belly of the whale repenting for refusing God’s call. Jonah accepts God’s call to go to Nineveh and the whale spits him out. When Jonah reached Nineveh and delivered God’s message the people repented, and God spared the people of Nineveh. What has been our firsthand experiences when we have refused to answer God’s call?
In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus calls some of the apostles and unlike Jonah they leave their fishing nets, their boats, their family and come follow him. Like Jonah and the apostles, you and I have been called to come and follow Jesus. What do you think Jesus is calling us to? Are you refusing like Jonah to come and follow Him. As Terry Hershey wrote in Sabbath Moment— “Healing Arms of Grace” (January 8, 2024) “We live in a world that needs healing, from the gentle arms and hands of grace. And every smile, every laugh, every moment of kindness, every bit of gentleness and tenderness, and every gift of grace, lets a little more healing light spill into our world. In this new year, where will we find sustenance and grounding in the gentle arms and hands of grace” to come and follow Him.
Carl Middleton is a theologian/ethicist and a member of the Passionist Family