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From: Jonah 1:1-2:1-2, 11

The prophet is charged with a mission and takes flight


[1] Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, [2] “Arise,
go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness has come
up before me.” [3] But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the
Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the
fare, and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of
the Lord.

The storm


[4] But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tem-
pest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. [5] Then the mariners
were afraid, and each cried to his god; and they threw the wares that were in the
ship into the sea, to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner
part of the ship and had lain down, and was fast asleep. [6] So the captain came
and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call upon your God!
Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we do not perish.”

[7] And they said to one another, “Come let us cast lots, that we may know on
whose account this evil has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell
upon Jonah. [8] Then they said to him, “Tell us, on whose account this evil has
come upon us? What is your occupation? And whence do you come? What is
your country? And to what people are you?” [9] And he said to them, “I am a
Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry
land.” [10] Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, “What is
this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the pres-
ence of the Lord, because he had told them.

[11] Then the said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet
down for us? For the sea grew more and more tempestuous. [12] He said to
them, “Take me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for
you; for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.”
[13] Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring the ship back to land, but they
could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them. [14]
Therefore they cried to the Lord, “We beseech thee, O Lord, let us not perish for
this man’s life, and lay not on us innocent blood; for thou, O Lord, hast done as
it pleased thee.” [15] So they took up Jonah and threw him into the sea; and the
sea ceased from its raging. [16] Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and
they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.

[17a] And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in
the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Jonah in the belly of the fish


[1] Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, [2] saying,

Jonah’s psalm of thanksgiving


“I called to the Lord, out of my distress,
and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and thou didst hear my voice.

[10] And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.

*********************************************************************************************
Commentary:

1:1-2:10. The first part of the book acts as an introduction to the second, which
is where the main message is developed. The first two chapters contain the main
storyline and introduce the main characters. As regards the story, they show that
when God proposes to do something it will inevitably be done: Jonah does not
want to carry out God’s command, but he does so despite himself (he is as stub-
born and awkward at the end — cf. 3:1-2 — as he was at the start — cf. 1:1-2); in
addition, some sailors learn to invoke the Lord, the only God.

But the main function of these chapters is to introduce the characters of the story
— God, the pagans and Jonah. The Lord God of Israel, as Jonah well knows, is
“the god of heaven, who made the sea and dry land” (1:9) and he is also the Just
One who never accuses an innocent person, and who acts as he pleases (1:14).
His dominion over the animal (1:17; 2:10) and inanimate (1:4, 15) world and over
the destinies of men (1:7) goes to show that he has this power.

The sailors, who are pagans, are religious men and well-disposed towards others
(cf. the note on 1:4-16).

Jonah is the character around whom the story is built. At first he does not make
a very good impression — certainly not, if you focus on his disobedience to the
Lord (1:3). However, the text does have positive things to say about the prophet:
Jonah does not hesitate to say that he worships the Lord, the God of heaven and
earth, and he is ready to prove his faith by deeds (1:9, 12). He is also a devout
person: when he is in the belly of the fish, he prays to the Lord (2:1) in the style
of a grateful Israelite (2:1-9). Even so, the sacred writer regards Jonah as an in-
consistent man: one moment (1:9) he is saying that God is the Lord of sea and
earth, and yet he tries to hide from him; and later on, he will acknowledge God
to be merciful (4:2), and yet ask him to punish the Ninevites rather than have
mercy on them.

There is also another feature that defines Jonah. Despite his disobedience to
God’s command, Jonah has something that the pagan sailors to not have: he
knows the true God and therefore only he knows how to resolve the situation
when they are plunged into danger (1:12, 15). If we bear in mind that the name
Jonah means “dove” (a name given elsewhere in the Bible to Israel: cf. Hos 7:11;
11:11; etc.), we could say that, if the sailors symbolize pagans in general, Jonah
in some way represents Israel. In the sense the book of Jonah is about the role
of Israel in the world. In this connexion St Jerome says: “The twelve minor pro-
phets, gathered together in a single volume, foretell more and greater ideas and
events that can be gleaned from a literal interpretation […]. Jonah, the most beau-
tiful dove, prefigures the passion of the Lord; he calls the world to conversion and,
in his mission to Nineveh, proclaims salvation to the Gentiles” (”Epistulae”, 53).

1:1-3. The book begins with the failed attempt to send Jonah on a mission. The
place-names and the whole scene are less real than symbolic: Jonah is sent to
Nineveh (a most wicked city: cf. v. 1 — its reputation in biblical tradition: cf. Nah
3:1-4), but he goes off in the very opposite direction, to Tarshish. This could
mean Tartessos, a Phoenician colony in southern Spain, but it could also mean
some distant place in the west (cf. the note on Is 23:1-18). If Nineveh is to the
east of Jerusalem, Tarshish is to the west, but the main thing about it is that it
is “[away] from the presence of the Lord” (v. 3).

Jonah disobeys the Lord and he does so blatantly. However, the sacred writer is
more subtle: he describes Jonah’s actions in such a way that they come across
as the very opposite of those of Jeremiah, the prophet of the nations (cf. Jer 1:4ff);
indeed, Jonah acts more in the style of Cain: like Cain, Jonah flees “from the pre-
sence of the Lord” (v. 3; cf Gen 4:13, 16) and like him he gets very annoyed with
God (cf. 4:1-4); Gen 4:4-7), although in the end God protects them both (cf. 2:1-2;
Gen 4:15); “The flight of the prophet can be read as a general metaphor for the
way that man runs away from the presence of God and immerses himself I the
things of this world when he has broken His commandments; but the storms of
misfortune and the doom of shipwreck prompt him to remember God’s presence
and to journey back to the One from which he sought to flee (St Jerome, “Com-
mentarii in Ionam”, 1, 4).

1:4-16. The story of Jonah’s adventure at sea is designed to show two things —
that the Lord can also be the God of the pagans; and that even people who do
not know God can have many virtues. The episode depicts the sailors as reli-
gious men: when shipwreck threatens, they do not just lighten the boat’s load,
but they pray to their gods. This natural religious feeling of theirs is full of imper-
fections; however, it is the route they take to discover the true God: each in-
vokes his own god (vv. 5, 6) and they cast lots to find out who is the guilty one,
the cause of their misfortune (v. 7). In the writings of some pagan authors (Ho-
race and Cicero, for example), we find evidence of this belief that if someone guil-
ty of sin was on a boat he was a risk to the rest of those on board (cf. v. 10). But
the sailors were not only men of faith: they were also kind people: when Jonah
suggests that they throw him overboard to quell the storm (cf. v. 12), they don’t
take him up on it; they try to reach the shore by rowing (v. 13). Only as a last re-
sort do they throw Jonah overboard (v. 15), and not before calling on the Lord not
to hold it against them (v. 14): “How great is the faith of these sailors! They find
themselves in terrible danger, and plead for the life of another: they know that
the spiritual death of sin is more than physical death” (St Jerome, “Commenta-
rii in Ionam”, 1, 14).

The result of these adventures is that the sailors are converted to the God of
Israel, so, instead of each calling on “his god” (vv. 5, 6), they call on the Lord (vv.
14-16). Also, they end up making vows to the Lord and offering sacrifice to him
(v. 16); that is, they do exactly what Jonah promises to do once he is saved (cf.
2:9). It is easy to see where all this is leading to — to a situation where salvation,
quite plainly, is open to everyone: all who are upright can attain God’s salvation;
not only in the temple but even on a ship it is possible to offer sacrifice to the
Lord.

1:17-2:10. Chapter 1 has shown God’s providence at work in all sorts of ways.
Now that providence focuses on Jonah, saving him from the sea and bringing
him onto dry land. Being swallowed by the big fish (1:17) is not a punishment
for Jonah, but a salvation (2:2, 6, 9). In biblical tradition, the sea is depicted as
a place of elements hostile to man — things that only God can control (cf. Job 7:
12; Ps 104:9; etc.), which is why, on occasions, it is likened to Sheol (v. 2; cf.
Job 7:9), the domain of death from which none can return (v. 6). If one bears in
mind that sense of the word, Jesus’ use of the sign of Jonah (Mt. 12:40) to ex-
plain his own death and resurrection is much less artificial than might appear at
first sight: Sheol, the kingdom of death, cannot hold Christ in its grip for more
than three days. Also, the role of water in the Jonah story may explain why the
text is used in baptismal liturgy. The Christian is immersed, buried, in the water
of Baptism and reborn to a new form of life in Christ: “To enter into perfect life, we
must imitate the example of Christ, and not only the examples of meekness, pa-
tience and humility that he gave us in life, but also the example of his death […].

We relive his death in our lives by being buried with him in baptism. What type
of tomb is this, and what good does it do us to enter into death of Christ? A
clean break with everything in our past lives is necessary, and this is possible
only through the new birth of which the Lord spoke: re-birth, as the word itself sug-
gests, marks the beginning of new life […]. How can we follow Christ when he de-
scends among the dead? We follow him into the tomb by our baptism. The bodies
of those who are baptized are, in a certain sense, buried in the waters of baptism.
In a mysterious way, baptism strips the body of its past sins” (St Basil, “De
Spiritu Sancto”, 15, 35).

Jonah’s prayer in the belly of the fish (vv. 2-9) is a mosaic of passages borrowed
(not exactly verbatim) from the Psalms. What we have here is a typical thanksgi-
ving psalm — past afflictions recalled, an account of how the person was rescued
from them, a promise to offer sacrifices and to keep one’s vows. It may seem a
little strange that this prayer is proclaimed here: it would, one might think, fit bet-
ter after v. 10, when Jonah has been saved. Still, the thrust of the prayer is perfec-
tly compatible with the context. Therefore, Origen comments, “Who can tell what
evil in our day is represented by the great beast that swallowed Jonah? […]. Be-
cause he was unfaithful, Jonah woke in the body of the whale; when he repented,
he was spat out again. Back on dry land, he obeyed the commandments of the
Lord and became […] the herald of salvation to all Ninevites, including those of to-
day, who live under the threat of death. Rejoicing in the mercy of God, Jonah did
not want to see God’s justice and punishment carried out on the sinful” (”De ora-
tione”, 13, 4).

*********************************************************************************************
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.


3 posted on 10/02/2011 10:41:53 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

From: Luke 10:25-37

Parable of the Good Samaritan


[25] And behold, a lawyer stood up to put Him (Jesus) to the test, saying, “Tea-
cher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” [26] He said to him, “What is written
in the law? How do you read?” [27] And he answered, “You shall love the Lord
your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength,
and with all your mind: and your neighbor as yourself.” [28] And He said to him,
“You have answered right; do this, and you will live.” [29] But he, desiring to jus-
tify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

[30] Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he
fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him
half dead. [31] Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he
saw him he passed by on the other side. [32] So likewise a Levite, when he
came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. [33] But a Samari-
tan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had com-
passion, [34] and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine;
then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
[35] And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper,
saying, “Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when
I come back.’ [36] Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbour to the
man who fell among the robbers?” [37] He said, “The one who showed mercy on
him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

*********************************************************************************************
Commentary:

25-28. Our Lord’s teaching is that the way to attain eternal life is through faithful
fulfillment of the Law of God. The Ten Commandments, which God gave Moses
on Mount Sinai (Exodus 20:1-17), express the natural law in a clear and con-
crete way. It is part of Christian teaching that the natural law exists, that it is a
participation by rational creatures in the Eternal Law and that it is impressed on
the conscience of every man when he is created by God (cf. Leo XIII, “Libertas
Praestantissimum”). Obviously, therefore, the natural law, expressed in the Ten
Commandments, cannot change or become outdated, for it is not dependent on
man’s will or on changing circumstances.

In this passage, Jesus praises and accepts the summary of the Law given by
the Jewish scribe. This reply, taken from Deuteronomy (6:4ff), was a prayer which
the Jews used to say frequently. Our Lord gives the very same reply when He is
asked which is the principal commandment of the Law and concludes His answer
by saying, “On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets”
(Matthew 22:40; cf. also Romans 13:8-9; Galatians 5:14).

There is a hierarchy and order in these two commandments constituting the dou-
ble precept of charity: before everything and above everything comes loving God
in Himself; in the second place, and as a consequence of the first commandment,
comes loving one’s neighbor, for God explicitly requires us to do so (1 John 4:21;
cf. notes on Matthew 22:34-40 and 22:37-38).

This passage of the Gospel also included another basic doctrine: the Law of God
is not something negative — “Do not do this” — but something completely positive
— love. Holiness, to which all baptized people are called, does not consist in not
sinning, but in loving, in doing positive things, in bearing fruit in the form of love of
God. When our Lord describes for us the Last Judgment He stresses this posi-
tive aspect of the Law of God (Matthew 25:31-46). The reward of eternal life will
be given to those who do good.

27. “Yes, our only occupation here on earth is that of loving God — that is, to
start doing what we will be doing for all eternity. Why must we love God? Well,
because our happiness consists in love of God; it can consist in nothing else.
So, if we do not love God, we will always be unhappy; and if we wish to enjoy a-
ny consolation and relief in our pains, we will attain it only by recourse to love of
God. If you want to be convinced of this, go and find the happiest man according
to the world; if he does not love God, you will find that in fact he is an unhappy
man. And, on the contrary, if you discover the man most unhappy in the eyes of
the world, you will see that because he loves God he is happy in every way. Oh
my God!, open the eyes of our souls, and we will seek our happiness where we
truly can find it” (St. John Mary Vianney, “Selected Sermons”, 22nd Sunday af-
ter Pentecost).

29-37. In this moving parable, which only St. Luke gives us, our Lord explains ve-
ry graphically who our neighbor is and how we should show charity towards him,
even if he is our enemy.

Following other Fathers, St. Augustine (”De Verbis Domini Sermones”, 37) iden-
tifies the Good Samaritan with our Lord, and the waylaid man with Adam, the
source and symbol of all fallen mankind. Moved by compassion and piety, He
comes down to earth to cure man’s wounds, making them His own (Isaiah 53:4;
Matthew 8:17; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 3:5). In fact, we often see Jesus being moved
by man’s suffering (cf. Matthew 9:36; Mark 1:41; Luke 7:13). And St. John says:
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only
Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we
loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the expiation for our sins.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:9-11).

This parable leaves no doubt about who our neighbor is — anyone (without dis-
tinction of race or relationship) who needs our help; nor about how we should
love him — by taking pity on him, being compassionate towards his spiritual and
corporal needs; and it is not just a matter of having the right feelings towards
him; we must do something, we must generously serve him.

Christians, who are disciples of Christ, should share His love and compassion,
never distancing themselves from others’ needs. One way to express love for
one’s neighbor is perform the “works of mercy”, which get their name from the
fact that they are not duties in justice. There are fourteen such works, seven spi-
ritual and seven corporal. The spiritual are: To convert the sinner; To instruct the
ignorant; To counsel the doubtful; To comfort the sorrowful; To bear wrongs pa-
tiently; To forgive injuries; To pray for the living and the dead. The corporal works
are: To feed the hungry; To give drink to the thirsty; To clothe the naked; To shel-
ter the homeless; To visit the sick; To visit the imprisoned; To bury the dead.

31-32. Very probably one reason why our Lord used this parable was to correct
one of the excesses of false piety common among His contemporaries. Accor-
ding to the Law of Moses, contact with dead bodies involved legal impurity, from
which one was cleansed by various ablutions (cf. Numbers 19:11-22; Leviticus
21:1-4, 11-12). These regulations were not meant to prevent people from helping
the injured; they were designed for reasons of hygiene and respect for the dead.
The aberration of the priest and the Levite in this parable consisted in this: they
did not know for sure whether the man who had been assaulted was dead or not,
and they preferred to apply a wrong interpretation of a secondary, ritualistic pre-
cept of the Law rather than obey the more important commandment of loving
one’s neighbor and giving him whatever help one can.

*********************************************************************************************
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.


4 posted on 10/02/2011 10:43:02 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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