Being reluctant

In today’s readings for Mass, the refrain of the Psalm is “The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness.” And that is a great thing to know and recall when we have sinned in ways large and small. And we should turn to God seeking forgiveness and the divine grace to quench our souls.

But how often our dryness has led us to the occasion of sin – and that same dryness keeps us from seeking forgiveness from God – and especially from others. The reading from Isaiah describes it all pretty well: “…the needy seek water…their tongues are parched with thirst. This is when we need to turn to God: I, the LORD, will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open up rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the broad valleys” (Isaiah 41:17-18)

That’s what God will do for us – and we should drink deeply of those waters.

Do you ever wonder if people think you are gracious, merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness? Are you willing to offer that thirst quenching forgiveness to others? Or do you excel at holding grudges and secretly hoping that God or life or someone will give them what they deserve?

I have been studying the Book of Jonah – the reluctant prophet. He is being sent to the mortal enemy of the Jews, the Assyrians and their King in Nineveh. He only has one job: tell the people that they are judged and (a) repent and God will relent from punishment and lead them on a new path to the cool waters, or (b) be destroyed.

God desires that all be saved. But not Jonah. Reluctantly and only after a lot of drama, Jonah ends up going to the Nineveh. His call to repentance is only 5 words (in Hebrew, 8 in English) – talk about doing the minimum! Amazingly, all of Nineveh repents. “But this greatly displeased Jonah, and he became angry. He prayed to the LORD, ‘O LORD, is this not what I said while I was still in my own country? This is why I fled at first toward Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, abounding in kindness, repenting of punishment. So now, LORD, please take my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.’” (Jonah 4:1-3)

Talk about a grudge. Jonah wanted God to destroy Nineveh. God wanted Nineveh saved.

Do you ever wonder if people think you gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in kindness? Or are you reluctant to do these things? Let’s see….your choices are to model God or Jonah as you go through life. Choose well.

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