Fr Dominic
Parish Priest

The book of Jonah addresses two major issues: the relation of Israel and Yahweh to other nations and the
meaning of divine justice. The reluctant prophet Jonah was sent to proclaim God’s universal salvific will to all nations. In the process human beings were taught a powerful lesson. God’s mercy far surpasses God’s judgements, “and his plan will not be thwarted even by the negative ‘righteousness’ of his prophet.”
The great issue here is that Jonah was really a racist. He did not believe that the people of Nineveh were good enough for the Yahweh’s salvific mercy. They were not Jewish and therefore should not be saved. So, he ran away in the opposite direction and boarded a ship to Tarshish. Yahweh unleashed a great storm and the all the sailors were praying to their gods to save their lives. They found Jonah asleep down below and were really angry with him and then when they realized he was a Hebrew they wanted to know what he had done to anger Yahweh. He then asked them to throw him into the sea. The sea calmed down as soon as they threw him in. They then were overawed by Yahweh and made vows and offered sacrifices to Him. Yahweh had arranged for a large fish to swallow Jonah. He was in there for three days and sang hymns and songs of praise to God. He was then vomited up on the shore beside Nineveh.

Yahweh then spoke to him a second time and ordered him to preach repentance to the people of Nineveh. Only forty more days and Nineveh will be destroyed. Like a miracle all the people repented and put on sackcloth
and ashes and fasted. God relented and saved them. Sadly Jonah was really annoyed because God showed
mercy and tenderness to foreigners. In a strop Jonah went off to the desert to die. God then said to him, “I am right to have mercy on 120,000 whom I created” Jonah still disagreed.