Jonah 3:1-10; Luke 10:38-42
When Jonah was sent as a prophet to the people of Nineveh, capital of the evil Assyrian Empire, he did not want to be their prophet, nor did he want God to forgive them when they repented their evil ways. The tale of Jonah is a hyperbolic parable of a prophet's confrontation with the unexpected mercy of God. It is rich with ironic imagery, and set against the backdrop of an entrenched hatred between the people of Israel and their Assyrian oppressors, who destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel in 721 B.C.E.
Jonah 4:1-11; Psalm 86:3-4, 5-6, 9-10; Luke 11:1-4
“Have you reason to be angry?’’ The first reading today gives a message of despair, lack of trust and suffering. Jonah appears to me to be a person who easily condemns and rather than stay the course and try to make a situation better chooses instead to run away, tattle and wait for others to suffer. Instead of being a spokesperson for God, Jonah isolates himself, considers only his perspective and states, “ I would be better off dead than alive,”which seems to be exactly the way Jonah is experiencing life. Throughout the entire First Reading Jonah is not engaged in life, he doesn’t raise the gourd plant and does not put any effort into understanding or trying to relieve any one’s suffering, including his own. Rather he stands by being angry at life, angry with himself and his surroundings but does nothing to improve the situation. This reading reminded me over and over again of our need to be Contemplative in action. Certainly we need to see what is happening in our lives; to not just feel sorrowful and in pain but, rather, we need to discern what our actions should be to change our suffering and the suffering of people in our world community.
"Which of these three... was neighbor to the robbers' victim?"
The parable of the Good Samaritan offers two particularly important clarifications. Until that time, the concept of “neighbor” was understood as referring essentially to one's countrymen and to foreigners who had settled in the land of Israel; in other words, to the closely-knit community of a single country or people. This limit is now abolished. Anyone who needs me, and whom I can help, is my neighbor.