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제목 Prophet Jonas Hidden Jesus's Image(2019-05-12)
작성자 관리자 작성일 2019-05-13




Prophet Jonas Hidden Jesus's Image(2019-05-12)


Introduction


 You know that the Old Testament was the announcement and the preparation to the New Testament, to what Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Church would do and say. We are in Easter Time, celebrating the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus from the dead after His Passion. Were Jesus’ Passion and Resurrection announced in the Old Testament? Yes, by the prophet Jonas. Our Lord Jesus Himself established a link between Himself and Jonas: “As Jonas was in the whale’s belly three days and three nights: so shall the Son of man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights”. (Mt 12;39).


 Today let us consider the story of the prophet Jonas through which we can get a deeper understanding of Our Lord Jesus in His Passion and Resurrection.

Disobedience of Jonas: summary of the story
      
Jonas was a true prophet in the continuity of Elias and Eliseus. But with one big difference: Elias and Eliseus worked in Israel for the conversion of their own race, but Jonas was sent by God to work for the conversion of pagans, namely the inhabitants of the city of Ninive. Why did God send him to these pagans? In order to make ashamed the Jews who, being themselves so rebellious to God, would see the docility with which the Gentiles would listen to God’s warnings and commandments. It is what God told the Prophet Ezechiel: “If you were sent to the gentiles, they would hearken to you, but the house of Israel will not hearken to you because they will not hearken to Me, for the all the house of Israel are of a hard forehead and an obstinate heart.” (Ez 3;6).
     
 Jonas was not happy at all with this mission. First of all because he had a strong aversion against all the pagans, their idolatry and immoralities. Then Jonas knew from the Prophecies that the conversion of the Gentiles would mean the end of the mission of Israel: since he loved his people, he did not want to help in anyway for his decline. And at last, as he said it later, Jonas foresaw that God would forgive in His mercy the people of Ninive, that his prophecy of the destruction of the city would not happen and therefore that he would look like a fool who does not know what he says. So, Jonas tried to escape God by boarding on a boat going far from Israel. We can wonder: how could Jonas think that he would escape God? Did he not know that God is everywhere? He knew perfectly that God is everywhere and that everything is under his control, but He knew also that God usually did not intervene visibly outside Israel, and so by running away far from Israel, Jonas hoped that God would not do anything against him.
 
 Actually, God did intervene against him. A big storm came on the sea but only localised on the boat where Jonas was. The sailors understood quickly that this storm was not a natural one but was due to the fault of one of the passengers. They discovered that Jonas was the guilty one, and Jonas confessed it. The sailors then asked him respectfully what was to be done to calm down the storm threatening their lives. And Jonas sacrificing Himself said courageously: “Take me up, and cast me into the sea and the sea shall be calm to you”. But the sailors, being good men, could not accept this idea of throwing into the sea one of their passengers, and so they tried to reach back the seashore rowing very hard. But in vain, the storm was too strong. Finally, seeing that it was definitively the will of God that Jonas be cast into the sea, they said this admirable prayer: “We beseech Thee, O Lord, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for Thou O Lord, hast done as it pleased Thee.” (Jonas 1;14) They took Jonas and respectfully, says the tradition, cast him into the sea, and the sea ceased from raging. And the sailors believed in the true God and offered to Him sacrifices.
 

Disobedience of Jonas: the mystical meaning


 Let us see now how Jonas was a figure of Our Lord Jesus in this part of the story.
Jonas did not want to preach to the Gentiles out of his love for his own race. Our Lord Jesus as well restricted his preaching to the Jews, out of love for them. He told for example the woman from Canaan asking for the cure of her daughter: “I was not sent but to the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel” (Mt 15;24). He told His Apostles explicitly: “Go ye not into the ways of the Gentiles and into the city of the Samaritans enter ye not” (Mt 10;5). Our Lord Jesus loved his own nation, he showed it for example when He cried over Jerusalem. He knew perfectly that after his preaching and death, the Jews would become the race universally despised, carrying the shameful stigmata of having crucified Him, the Son of God, the most beautiful Son of man, the honor and the glory of mankind. Our Lord Jesus was like delaying therefore the preaching to the Gentiles in order to give more time and a last chance to the Jews to convert.

 Jonas on the boat was the image of Jesus in the boat of St Peter, symbol of the Church He founded to continue His Mission. The storm on the sea means all the hatred, jealousy and awful persecution of the Jews against Jesus. As Jonas told the sailors that the only way to calm down the storm and for them to be saved was to cast him into the sea, so Our Lord Jesus spoke many times to His Apostles of the necessity of his death for the salvation of the world. As the sailors refused at first to cast Jonas in the sea, so the Apostles refuse God’s plan of Jesus’ death: St Peter explicitly spoke against it. At last the sailors facing the imminent danger of their own death, praying to God not to hold them guilty of what they were forced to do, and respectfully lowering Jonas in the sea, were the image of what should have been the death of Christ: to be done since it was the will of God for the remission of sins, but with deep respect and humble prayers offered to God. On the contrary, the Jews treated Jesus shamefully with an incredible cruelty, and proudly they called upon themselves and their children the responsibility of shedding His innocent blood.
 
Jonas swallowed by the whale: summary of the story
     
Let us come back to the story of Jonas. As soon as Jonas was abandoned in the sea, God sent a huge fish, a whale says the Holy Scripture, to swallow Jonas alive. And by an obvious miracle of God, Jonas stayed alive three days and three nights in the belly of that whale in the depths of the sea. Jonas kept on praying during these days. And after this time, the whale vomited him on the seashore of Israel, for him to go and accomplish the mission given him by God to preach to the people of Ninive.


Jonas swallowed by the whale: mystical meaning


This stay of Jonas in the belly of the whale was an announcement of the burial and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus:  “For as Jonas was in the whale’s belly three days and three nights: so shall the Son of man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights”. 
     
 But here we may wonder: Jesus was not 3 days and 3 nights in the sepulchre, but only for around 36 hours. St Augustine explained this difficulty: it was common for the Jews to name the whole thing by one of its part, so in our case to call “one day” what was in reality only a few hours of the day, or to call “night” what was in reality only a few hours of the night. Jesus was in the sepulchre for the last hours of the day of Good Friday and then for the night up to midnight: these were the first day and the first night. Jesus was then in the sepulchre for the whole Saturday: these were the 2nd day and the 2nd night. At last He was in the sepulchre for the last hours of the night on Sunday morning and the first hours of the day: these were the 3rd night and the 3rd day.


Jonas going to preach the Ninevites and to tell them to do penance for their sins is the image of Our Lord Jesus through His Church preaching to people and applying the fruits of the Redemption.

 

Conclusion


 What to say to conclude? Let us beware of the warning of Our Lord Jesus: “The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation and shall condemn it: because they did penance at the preaching of Jonas. And behold a greater than Jonas here.” Let us therefore listen attentively to Christ and His Church and let us do penance for our sins. As God spared the Ninevites, so He will spare us in His mercy and applying to us the merits of Our Lord Jesus risen from the dead, He will grant us the eternal life. Amen.


Fr. Demornex