Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Pass on the Mercy You Have Received

Wednesday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

By Colleen O’Sullivan

Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry that God did not carry out the evil he threatened against Nineveh.  He prayed, “I beseech you, Lord, is not this what I said while I was still in my own country?  This is why I fled at first to Tarshish.  I knew that you are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, rich in clemency, loathe to punish.  And now, Lord, please take my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.”  But the Lord asked, “Have you reason to be angry?”  (Jonah 4:1-4)

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”  He said to them, “When you pray, say: … forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us.”  (Luke 11: 1-2a, 4a)

For you, O Lord are good and forgiving, abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.  Hearken, O Lord, to my prayer and attend to the sound of my pleading.  (Psalm 86:5-6)

On the one hand, Jonah makes me laugh.  He’s totally outrageous.  God tells him to go to Nineveh, so Jonah runs as hard and as fast as he can in the opposite direction.  He’s no match for the Lord, though, and he finds himself hauled back to where he should have been in the belly of a giant fish.  And here we find him ticked off because God, who has forgiven Jonah his waywardness, has the audacity to show mercy to the Ninevites.  Jonah is truly over the top.

On the other hand, Jonah also makes me cringe.  He’s all too familiar a sight in the looking glass.  We appreciate God’s grace and mercy when they’re extended to us.  Sometimes we’d like to see God punish the wicked, but of course the wicked would always be someone else.  We get hopping mad when God is compassionate and forgiving toward someone we deem unworthy.  It’s not fair, we say.

Thankfully we’re not running the universe, and God is in control.  The truth is that we are often the sinners and unless our God is “a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, rich in clemency, (and) loathe to punish,” we have no hope.

Jesus takes this one step further when he teaches the disciples and us how to pray.  He tells us to ask for forgiveness for our sins and ties this to our forgiving those who have hurt or wronged us.  Not always an easy thing to do at all.


Is there anyone against whom you’re holding a grudge?  If so, take it to the Lord in prayer, because God’s desire is that we take the mercy and compassion he has shown us in our waywardness and extend it to those who have wronged us.  

No comments: