As in the biblical passage about the “almost” sacrifice of Isaac, in which the knife sometimes covers and does not allow to see the arm of the angel of God stopping Abraham, also in the case of Jonah and his book , the whale is so hoarding that it seems that the whole book is that and only that.
Jonah is called by God to preach the conversion of the inhabitants of Nineveh. And he, considering it “mission impossible”, embarks in the opposite direction. That is, he does not believe that the forces of God, his grace, is sufficient to work. Or worse still, he has counted only on his strength and not on God’s. Something similar to what happened to the disciples before the hungry crowd. They did not see it possible to feed everyone. They, too, did mathematical calculations outside of God’s multiplying grace.
We already know that Jonah’s journey will be tortuous. He is a prophet who runs away from his calling. The storm, misunderstandings, being thrown into the sea, the huge whale that swallows him and returns him on the third day (foreshadowing the Resurrection of Jesus)…
History tells us that Jonah finally went to Nineveh, that he preached, and that his preaching in the name of God moved the hearts of the Ninevites to conversion.
But… Jonah still had a way to go in his personal conversion: he complains to God that he easily forgives the Ninevites. There is much in this painting that reminds us of the eldest son of the Parable of the Father who loves and forgives (Parable of the Prodigal Son) or also of the dialogues between Jesus and the Pharisees.
All of them – Jonah, the eldest son, the Pharisees – resist God’s mercy towards others. They forget all the times they have been forgiven. In the case of Jonah, it is so obvious: he receives a new opportunity from God (after his flight) and, on the other hand, he does not accept that God grants it to the Ninevites.
We can and should ask ourselves about our resistance to God’s mercy towards others: the famous phrase “that has no forgiveness from God” has nothing Christian about it. Let it not happen to us like Jonah, who fled from being God’s prophet and instead usurped the place of God’s judge. God’s forgiveness of our brother must always cause us joy.
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