Jason Alexander as Jonah: Homily for Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Readings for Today

I must confess I find this book of Jonah quite humorous, and when I read it I got to thinking about which actor would play Jonah if it were made into a movie.  And I settled on Jason Alexander, the actor who played George on Seinfeld.  This is so because I kind of think of Jonah as a person like George. I can imagine him overreacting, much like we encounter today.

From the beginning of the book we see just how much Jonah does not like the Ninevites.  And today we see just how much Jonah is capable of focusing on himself. Yet, much like Seinfeld helped us to see the humor in the ordinary, about nothing, so too does the book of Jonah show how much we do not think like God.

The Reluctant Prophet: Homily for Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Readings for Today

The book of Jonah is a wonderful book.  In parts it is satire, in other parts is speaks a powerful message against close-mindedness.  Jonah is commissioned by God to preach to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, Israel’s arch-enemy.  Yesterday the reading was the story of how Jonah simply did not want to go to preach to Nineveh.  In escaping from God, Jonah winds up in quite a predicament.  Running from God is not the answer.

Today he is going to go to Nineveh, but he is none too happy about it.  He does not like Nineveh or its people.  He is even more frustrated when the message he proclaims is heard and the people of Nineveh repent.  In a time with so much animosity and anger, the message of the book of Jonah serves as a reminder to us to recognize that God will save whomever he wishes.  Our role is not to second-guess God, but to say yes to him and to witness to his message.

Homily for Sunday, January 25, 2015

Readings for Today

I do not like to do what I do not want to do. And usually, for better or worse, I find a good reason to avoid doing what I do not want to do. Are you like that? Sometimes I waste more time trying to get out and avoid doing what I do not want to do that I am occupied by it more and for longer than if I just did it in the first place. Why is it that despite this repeated experience of wasting time avoiding what I do not want to do that I cannot change my behavior?

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Homily for Monday, October 13, 2014

Readings for Today

Perhaps you have heard someone suggest that what really matters is on the inside. Or maybe you have heard the common proverb, “You cannot judge a book by its cover.” The suggestion is that what is internal is ultimately more important than what is external.

We certainly would not see this belief evident in commercials or advertisements we may see. How someone looks is the object of much attention when we look at advertisements. We need to be quite pretty, if we were to listen to what we are told, don’t we? We have to be thin, have skin without blemish, have the latest hair style, and spend a lot of money on those things that eliminate our not so pleasant physical characteristics. We may say that what really matters is on the inside, but it can be awfully hard to convince someone who looks only at the culture of advertising that this is really true.

But as we gain wisdom, we see that indeed the development of the internal really does matter. We also talk about substance over style, for example. I have heard studies that suggest when two people are married and experiencing true love, they continue to find each other more and more attractive, even as men may go bald, and extra weight might find itself on bodies. This is true because couples more and more appreciate the characteristics and qualities that really make human beings talented. We can quickly see the difference between those who are slick, but do not embody the long lasting characterisitics that we have come to value as human beings.

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Homily for Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Readings for Today

We all like excuses. They are easy to come up with, and we are at our most creative when thinking about. We cannot do this, because… I do not have the time for that, because… I cannot help you out now, because… I am too young.  Even in the bible, there is no shortage of excuses.  Moses in the third chapter of Exodus has many reasons why this is not the time he can leave the Israelite people. Isaiah does not know what to say.  Jonah does not like the Ninevites. Jeremiah, the person we encounter in today’s first reading is too young.

even in the gospel we find excuses and circumstances that make it difficult to answer the call of Jesus. There are too many family obligations, or too many possessions are owned. We all like to make excuses. And yet when it comes to the kingdom of God, it seems there is a certain sense of urgency on the part of Jesus. With those I have already mentioned, Moses, Isaiah, Jonah, or Jeremiah, there is a certain sense of urgency in the part of God for proclaiming the good news.

And no wonder why. The need for God’s word never goes away. We find ourselves in the current time where there seem to be too many tragic news stories to keep up with. And what are we to make of all of them? How is it that we are to cope with the myriad of events, good and bad, that make up our daily lives.

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Homily for Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Readings for Today

The story of Jonah is one of my favorite stories in the Old Testament.  Jonah is the reluctant prophet.  He does not want to go to the people of Nineveh, he does not care about their salvation, he does not care that it is God who is asking him to go.  The introduction to the book of Jonah in the New American Bible  says this: “It concerns a disobedient prophet who rejected his divine commission, was cast overboard in a storm and swallowed by a great fish, rescued in a marvelous manner, and returned to his starting point. Now he obeys and goes to Nineveh, the capital of Israel’s ancient enemy.”

Why is it that Jonah does not want to go?  Because he does not care for the Ninevites.  They are the enemy, the “them” in an us and them world.  And so, he is angry that he is asked to warn them.  But there is more.  It becomes more pronounced when it becomes clear to Jonah he must preach, and goes.  But, alas, he preaching has effect, and Jonah gets mad again.  Rather than rejoicing in the acceptance of God’s grace, Jonah becomes angry that Nineveh is not destroyed.

There are so many levels to this story.  First, there is the primacy of God’s love.  Were I God, I would have had a hard time putting up with Jonah.  He hardly seems to be the type of person that would be a good messenger.  I picture him as a surly, angry, cynical person, the type that says “that will never work” or “no” to any new or different idea. But I am not God, and God stays with Jonah because unlike me, God can see into Jonah’s heart and beyond the rough exterior.

The Introduction to the New American Bible chapter of the book of Jonah also points out this irony.  “The book is replete with irony, wherein much of its humor lies. The name “Jonah” means “dove” in Hebrew, but Jonah’s character is anything but dove-like.”   Not the pleasant prophet, but the one who runs far away from God, only to wind up again where he began, and one who is hardly enthusiastic in his message.  In fact, his message is devoid of any mention of God, or any concern that these people will convert and turn to God.

In this story though is hope for us.  God does not abandon us, turn his back, or give up.  No, God is always seeking to find new ways that we might recognize and respond to God’s grace.  Such is the message of Jonah, and of Lent.  Let us pray for open hearts, that instead of turning away from God, we might turn toward God and new life.