Devotional Thought of the Day:
9 But God said to Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry over the gourd plant?” Jonah answered, “I have a right to be angry—angry enough to die.” 10 Then the LORD said, “You are concerned* over the gourd plant which cost you no effort and which you did not grow; it came up in one night and in one night it perished. 11 And should I not be concerned over the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot know their right hand from their left, not to mention all the animals?” NABRE Jonah 4:9-11
Missionary activity is nothing else and nothing less than an epiphany, or a manifesting of God’s decree, and its fulfillment in the world and in world history, in the course of which God, by means of mission, manifestly works out the history of salvation. By the preaching of the word and by the celebration of the sacraments, the center and summit of which is the most holy Eucharist, He brings about the presence of Christ, the author of salvation. (1)
“I have learnt with sadness of the killing this morning at the Church of Saint-Etienne du Rouvray. The three victims: the priest, Father Jacques Hamel, 84, and the authors of the assassination. Three other people were injured, one very seriously. I cry out to God with all men of good will. I would invite non-believers to join in the cry! “ (2)
A lot of people focus on the fish (some call it a whale) in the story of the prophet Jonah. To be honest, the controversy there is silly, a game played to avoid what is truly controversial. The sin that is challenged there, and not met with repentance, the sin of Jonah.
Imagine today if an evangelical leader was called to go to Iraq or Syria, to preach repentance to the cadres of ISIL, or to AAfghanistanand preach to ISIL’s history enemy, Al Quaeda. Would they look for the nearest beach, rather than taking a ship to the location of their new ministry? Would they and their friends get mad if they saw their enemies repent, throwing a tantrum as Jonah did?
There is the controversy, there is the place where ministry could occur, and those who know the grace of God are tempted to turn their back on not only the people God would have heard their gospel, but on the mission of God, and really on the heart of God.
God calling you on not loving your enemies? God calling you on loving a “thing” ( in his case a plant, of for us, our way of living ) more than you love the people. That’s controversial. There is a conversation that will hurt, that may drive us from the room, or perhaps to our knees in repentance.
Look at the quote of the ArchBishop of the priest who became a martyr. He prays for the two assassins – and calls them victims! That is controversial! Even more controversial than Pope Francis reminding the cChurch that Christians can be very violent as well.
We are all sinners, we are all victims of unrighteousness as well. The unrighteousness of sins committed against us, the unrighteousness that springs from our being led into sin by those who should be carrying us to the cross. From those who should help us see our epiphany, who should help us see Jesus revealed as the one who cleanse all people of all sin, and all unrighteousness. Who desires that so much, that he is even patient with us as He waits for us to get our act together, to live as Christ lived, to love our enemies even as Christ loved us.
Jonah was pissed at God, for he couldn’t see why God would let a plant die. Yet Jonah was willing to write off a city, and was ticked at their repentance. God called him on that…
And perhaps now, or perhaps as we head forward to communion this weekend, we need to examine ourselves, confess our sins, our time of acting like Jonah. To get past the little miracle to the big issue of Jonah.
God loves our enemies as much as He loves us.
It’s time to rejoice over that fact… and realize those who like us, were enemies of God, are our brothers and sisters. Whether they are Muslim, or Sikh, Jewish by faith, or simply genetically, atheist or agnostic, Lutheran or Catholic. God is calling them, and calling us to deliver that message.
Lord have mercy on us ALL!
(1) Catholic Church. (2011). Decree on the Mission Activity of the Church: Ad Gentes. In Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
(2) Archbishop LeBrun http://saltandlighttv.org/blog/general/press-release-of-the-archbishop-of-rouen-following-hostage-situation-at-church-of-saint-etienne-du-rouvray