WHAT ARE WE CONCERNED ABOUT?
People get so preoccupied with their problems that they can't see the bigger ones other people have.
If it seems unreal to some people that Jonah is swallowed by a fish, then his attitude must seem even more unreal. Why is it that Jonah is displeased that God would show compassion and love toward the Ninevites? Why would he be jealous? His problem is that, even though he knows God is gracious and merciful, he did not come close to a deep understanding of God and His values. God used the withered plant to teach Jonah a lesson. In Jonah's disappointment, God pointed out that if Jonah could show some form of pity for the plant, why shouldn't God, the Creator, show pity toward the people of Nineveh whom He had made?
During my reflection time this morning I was reminded of a story I read years ago that relates to how preoccupied Jonah is with his problem:
A child on a school bus swallowed a crayon that lodged in his windpipe. The bus driver tried to help him cough it out but it didn't work, so he tried to flag down a motorist to rush the child to the hospital but no one would stop to help. Finally, the desperate driver forced a motorist to stop by blocking the traffic lane with his own body. However, the motorist still refused to help, saying he would be late for work. When the driver finally got the child to the hospital it was too late. Like Jonah, people get so preoccupied with their problems that they can't see the bigger ones other people have.
How hard is it for us, at times, to see beyond our world and our own troubles?
Today's first reading Jonah finds a parallel between himself, and those who think that God's favor is something people ought to earn as if some price should be paid to God for His mercy and love. They judge God by human standards, which say that one is entitled only to those things for which one has worked hard to acquire. As a consequence, one can become indignant when he hears of a deathbed conversion or there like. We fail to understand that God loves all people because they are His children - His creation. And so we must not just look at ourselves and think we are the only ones that truly live up to what God commands of us. When we truly know God's love then we also truly know we must share His love by loving those around us.
We should see another reason why God gives love freely, which is implicit in the Gospel. When Jesus teaches us to call God "Our Father," it is clearly implied that we have become God's children. What does Jesus' prayer tell us about God and about ourselves? It tells us that God is both Father, in being the Creator, and Author of all He has made. Likewise, He is eternally Father by His relationship to His only Son. All fatherhood and motherhood is derived from Him. We all become God's adopted children.
As a result, we can pray with expectant faith because our heavenly Father loves us and treats us as His beloved children. His love and grace transform us and make us like Himself. Through His grace and power we can love and serve one another as Jesus taught - with grace, mercy, and loving kindness. Do you treat others as you think they deserve, or do you treat them as the Lord would, with grace and mercy? Let's not have an attitude like Jonah, but let us remember that we are much more than God's creatures.
We are His beloved children!