Jonah has just been vomited up by a fish, not that the first few verses of chapter 3 would indicate that.
In the summertime heat, in the small town where I grew up, the neighborhood kids would gather to play baseball. There weren’t enough of us for two teams. Probably just enough for us to have a full team. But we made do, thanks to ghost runners and other bizarre and intricate rules that we made up to aid in the playing “fair” of summertime street baseball.
Not being particularly sporty, there was an aspect of pick up ball (of any type) that I was particularly fond of. It was the absolute equalizer of kids everywhere in any type of game: sports or no.
A close game but you weren’t ready for that last (and perfect) pitch? Miss it? Do-over. Was the street slick and you had a slow start off the base and so you’re out at this one? Do-over.
Tagged “it” when you weren’t suspecting? Do-over.
It’s an ancient favor, the do-over.
And Jonah employees it with God here. Or rather, God’s mercy grants it to Jonah in this, the third chapter.
To recap, God sent Jonah out but Jonah refused and sailed in the opposite direction instead. A storm blew, Jonah got thrown overboard, was swallowed by a big fish, and then spit up on the shore. Jonah messed up. He realized it. And called a do-over.
And God says okay.
Because He’s the God of second chances. And third chances. And fourth chances…
He’s the God who pursues his people relentlessly. A God, as Bishop Robert Barron puts it in The Strangest Way, “who comes after us with a reckless abandon, breaking open his own heart in love in order to include us in the rhythm of his own life.”
Just as he pursues Jonah, he pursues us. How far? All the way to the cross.
For Jonah, the answer was yes. When offered a second chance, Jonah responds positively;
“he arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the Lord.”
1.Do you need a do-over?
As Catholics, the confessional is always open to us. The door of mercy, as it were, is never far away.
2.If you haven’t been to confession in awhile, what’s holding you back?
3.Will you make an examination of conscience and enter the door of mercy?
God’s not angry at you. He’s the God of mercy. He loves you, and he wants you back.