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.

Latest from the Iraqi Dominican Sisters

From the Iraqi Dominican Sisters: ” It is certain, many have reached their breaking point and despair is setting in.”

August 30th 2014

Weakened and Impoverished

We entered the fourth week of displacement. Yet, there is nothing promising at all. The Iraqi government has not done anything to regain the Christian towns back from the IS. Likewise, the Kurdish government, apart from allowing us to enter their province, has not offered any aid, financial or material, leaving us in the streets, and making the church take full responsibility of us all.

Thanks to the Church of Iraq in Kurdistan, who opened their halls and centres to provide shelters. Yet, the number of refugees was so large that the Kurdish government had to face the stark reality and open their schools to provide additional shelter for refugees.

We hear a lot about world governments and organizations sending financial aid to Iraq, but the refugee gets the least –we do not know or understand why. People lost almost everything; they cannot even afford to buy milk or formula for their children. What saddens us most is that, only one month ago, these people were the most educated in the country and among those most likely to build a life for themselves and their family, and now they do not have enough money in their pockets to survive the day. Christians became accustomed to investing their money in businesses, shops, fields, buildings…etc, to build their communities.

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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.