The Presence of God
Meditation for Monday of the 27th Week in Ordinary Time
(Jonah 1:1-17; 2:1, 10; Lk 10:25-37)
The prophet Jonah was unique character. It seems he thought that the presence of God was only among the Jews. Hence, “Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” Imagine that moment, when a man of faith tried to hide from God, and he entered the ship of unbelievers, taking solace therein! Seeing Jonah, the man with the word of God, sleeping away in the inner part of the ship, comes alive today when the baptized Christian, the man who made vows and commitment to the Lord, excuses himself and justifies his self-indulgent life-style, which renders him unfaithful and unfruitful in his vocation. He joins the ship of unbelievers in an earthly pursuit, abandoning his divine vocation to spread the Kingdom of God. Think about how Christians and church leaders of today are sailing away in their little ships to Tarshish, embarking on their own self-preservation journeys instead of facing the truth of faith and announcing the Good news of the Kingdom of God.
But there was mighty turbulence at sea, so that the ship was threatened to break up! Jonah learnt through had way that God is everywhere. Like the prodigal son, he came to his sense, and confronted himself with the truth. His honesty was narrow way to follow for it landed him in the belly of the fish. “Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish.” Oh! Not only is God present in Israel, He hears prayers from the most uncomfortable situations of life, even in the belly of a fish down the sea. The man who was hiding and resting away, suddenly opened his mouth to pray when he supposed to be fighting for his life. Imagine how the prayer of Jonah transformed the belly of the fish into the ‘house of God’, for if God can hear, then God is present therein. This is what prayer does to our every situation.
Our life of prayer opens us to God’s presence at all times. And prayer comes alive in our love for God and neighbor. The example of the good Samaritan shows us the practical way: As we pray to God, we live so as to become to others an answered prayer for them. This is how we live in the presence of God and bring others to witness to it too. Charity does the miracle; love conquers at the end. The fish that swallowed Jonah became his transporter to Nineveh; The Jew that was beaten on his way to Jericho got a reliable neighbor in the good Samaritan. God wins!
St Francis of Assisi, pray for us. Amen.
Fr Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church,
Tedi-Muwo, Ojo, Lagos.
Monday October 4th, 2021.