“At the judgment the men of Nineveh
will arise with this generation and condemn it,
because at the preaching of Jonah they repented,
and there is something greater than Jonah here.” (Lk 11:32)
I love the story of Jonah. In today’s first reading, we hear about Jonah going to the city of Nineveh, preaching destruction. The people of Nineveh had sinned greatly against God and all of them, great and small alike, were going to be obliterated.
They heard and heeded the message. From the king to the lowliest peasant, great and small alike, they repented. And because they repented, Nineveh was spared.
But, how did Jonah get there in the first place? Remember the story?
God told Jonah to go to Nineveh. Jonah said no. God continued to pursue Jonah. Jonah fled from God over land and over sea. Ultimately, in a great storm, he was pitched off of the boat, swallowed up by a great fish, and spewed on the shores of Nineveh. At which point God said, “Can you hear me now?”
So, Jonah went.
We as so like Jonah. We oftentimes hear the call of God. And, just as Jonah did, we often argue with God or refuse God or attempt to run away from God.
I have heard that tale over and over again in my years as a priest. I have heard it from parishioner and non-parishioner. I have heard it from priests as well.
Many of our “second vocation” priests will tell the story of how they identify with Jonah. They talk about the business world in which they were a part. They recount all sorts of stories of other career paths they had pursued. And yet, always in the back of their minds, was the insistent call of God. Finally submitting to that call, they found themselves in the seminary in mid-life or later and, ultimately, they were ordained to the priesthood.
God wants us to embrace His will. He goes out of His way to let us know that. It is a shame that we make God work so hard in that regard. But it is because this world has so many enticements that often prevent us from hearing God’s call. Even if we do, the world has so many temptations that we often are led away from God’s call.
God has a lot of patience, though. He has an eternity of it. He waits and He calls. He waits and He calls. He waits and He calls. How are we going to respond?
FAITH ACTION: Jonah ran from God before he ultimately went to Nineveh to proclaim the word of God. Ask yourself the question, “How have I been running from God?” Make a plan to say “yes” to God’s will today.