In our first reading today, we hear of God telling Jonah to go and preach against Nineveh. Nineveh was an enemy kingdom to Israel. It was known even outside the Bible as a great, lawless and corrupt city. It is to this city that God tells Jonah to go to. Jonah initially refuses and runs the other way. He had no love for the Ninevites or their sal¬vation. It was only after being thrown overboard, being swallowed up by a whale and then eventually ending up on the beach of Nineveh, covered in whale vomit that Jonah changes his mind. Jonah’s disobedience causes Jonah to go through com¬pletely unnecessary suffering. Jonah’s eventual obedience causes the salvation of more than a hundred and twenty thousand people.
The heart of God is always to save His lost children,even when they do not know or do not acknowledge God Jonah being a prophet, being familiar with the voice of God, still chose to disobey God in the first instance. It took a near-death experience for him to change his mind. I find Jonah so relatable because oftentimes, despite having a relationship with God, despite having encountered His goodness time and again, at times my first response to God is a no. This is especially true when God wants me to serve in a capacity that is uncomfortable to me or in a capacity that requires huge sacrifices of my time, energy or resources. And while God in His absolute mercy has kept me from being mixed up in whale vomit, I do find that my own decisions and stubborn actions often cause me to end up in re¬ally uncomfortable situations with completely unnecessary heartache. I think this stems from a deep-seated need to look after my own needs.
We become so absorbed by the world and its ways that we often fall into the trap of thinking that we need to look after ourselves. The Ninevites were enemies of the Israelites. It would have suited Jonah just fine if God did destroy the Ninevites because that was one entire headache just taken care of. We think that what we see, what we hear, the current situation we are facing is every¬thing. So we spend all our energy, all our resources, all our time into our very ineffective and unsatisfactory attempts at fixing it.
In the Gospel proclamation today, we read of our Lord Jesus preaching the amazing news that the Kingdom of God is at hand. He urges us to repent and believe in the Good news; the good news that the Kingdom of God has come near. The Kingdom where God reigns as King is near, that it is here. So we no longer have to provide for our own needs. We no longer have to look after ourselves and strive to make things right. We no longer are limited to our resources and abilities. We can live in the Kingdom of God where He provides every need. Where His resources become our resources. Where we are not limited to our broken selves. And in this Kingdom, God is not just King but He is Father. So we do not need to live as terrified subjects of a cruel king. But we live freely and unafraid as sons and daughters of the Most High King.
King David, a prophet with far vision, understood this so well. He cries out to God to show him God’s ways, to teach him the paths of God. Even though King David was a great king of this world, he desired to live in the Kingdom of God. He wanted to walk in the ways of the King of Kings. David goes on to say that God instructs the sin¬ners in His ways, He guides them and teaches them what is right. This is the Kingdom of God; this is the great Good News that Jesus came to bring. So it does not matter where we think we stand with God. It doesn’t matter if we are still stuck in the middle of our sin¬ful life. If we just lift our eyes to heaven and embrace the reality of the Kingdom of God on earth among us, then we can receive the instructions and the loving guidance of the most perfect Father, whose heart is to have all His children back home, reigning with Him in His Kingdom. It does not matter if we have been saying no to God a thousand times before this. It does not matter if we feel like we have missed your chance and that currently are covered in whale vomit, stuck inside the belly of a whale, deep underwater. God has the ability and the desire to take us out of our limitations. He wants us to live freely and joyfully. He wants to use us to spread His Kingdom further and as we say yes to that, our own needs are met in ways that we could never dream about. God is a perfect Father – He alone knows how to perfectly meet the needs of His children – not just so we get by in life but so that we excel and reign in life.
Prayer: Abba Father, show me how to live this good news today. Show me Your paths, teach me to walk in Your ways. I want to embrace my place in Your King¬dom. I no longer want to be defined by my own circumstances and abilities but I want to reign with You in Your Kingdom here on earth. Amen.