I’m a terrible judge of character. Awful. I spend a lot of time in my own head and when I finally remember to look out, I am often catching a glimpse of the thing that jolted me into the real world to begin with. It’s often something small: a sideways glance at me; a whispered word across the room in which the whisperer [accidentally] catches my eye and I assume the whispers are about me; a harsh word that draws blood.
I carry the wound with me. I nurse it and coddle it and make sure it grows.I can make a pretense of writing about how this isn’t the right thing to do - but we already know that. And it’s not enough.
Time again the wickedness of a people - that is, my wickedness when I nurse and coddle a hurt into resentment - “rises up” before God. And yet, He doesn’t nurse his wounds into resentment. He doesn’t coddle a hurt into wrath.
Rather, the God of the universe turns to us in love for “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” And that is perfect mercy.
We see it here in Nineveh. Nineveh, the capital of Assyria and a foe to the Israelites. Their wickedness is so much that it has risen before God. But he turns toward the city in love. He turns toward the wickedness and, reaching out across the sin to bridge the divide, sends his servant Jonah to cry against it that its inhabitants might repent.
Well. He tries to send Jonah. He wants Jonah to go.
But Jonah will have none of it. He immediately gets onto the first ship he can find and sails…away. In the opposite direction and to nowhere in particular. Just away.. Not a few theologians believe that the reason Jonah left was not that he feared his life in the face of his foe, but that he feared the city would actually repent and make Israel look bad.
Jonah turned and ran, but what will we do? What should our response be in the face of those whose wickedness rises up to God? Are we “merciful like the Father” and reach across to our brothers and sisters in love? Or are we Jonah and afraid of that mercy? Are we afraid of God’s love? Of its effects?
God loves his creation! He loves man! He loves you.
How might we be the face of mercy to those around us? Today, can we find an opportunity - no matter how small - to turn to our fellow man in love and practice a spiritual or corporeal work of mercy (CCC 2447) without thought of what that might mean to us?