Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Disobeying Ourselves

Daily Readings
Psalm 41 Genesis 36 Jonah 3 Mark 6

Daily Text: Jonah 3

Disobeying Ourselves
The common wisdom is that there are no second chances. Seize your opportunity for it will not come again. There is truth in this or it would not be received as wisdom. Heraclitus words that one cannot swim twice in the same river tends to confirm the idea. Many are the philosphers and theologians who echo this. However, this cannot be allowed to interpret Jonah’s second word from the LORD. His is a true second chance. God still has not given him his message, waiting for him to arrive in Nineveh. The beauty of Jonah is that he repented and became truly free in the belly of the fish. There he realized that he could obey God without losing his own integrity. He did not have to agree with God’s desire for the Ninevites to repent to preach their doom! And we shall see in chapter 4 that he did not agree with God. “And if we obey God, we must disobey ourselves, and it is in this disobeying ourselves, wherein the hardness of obeying God consists [Sermon of Father Mapple in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, 183:vi].
Allowing that God gives us many opportunities to repent—who of us would ever do so if we had but one opportunity—it is remarkable that Nineveh did so with the one hearing of her coming destruction. She did not wait for forty days, she immediately from king to kine repented her evil and her violent ways. Abraham’s greatness lay in his faith in the word of God. God says offer Isaac and he does. No heading for Tarshish for him, or in our story, for Nineveh. On the other hand, presumably Judah, for whom this story is written, fails to respond. The story illustrates for Judah that her own redemption is wrapped up with the destiny of the nations, even her enemies, and we have no information that she ever learned much from the prophet’s demonstration of the universal nature of God’s redemption.

Thomas Edward Brown

When He appoints thee, go thou forth—
It matters not
If south or north,
Bleak waste or sunny plot.
Nor think, if haply He thou seek’st be late,
He does thee wrong.
To stile or gate
Lean thou thy head, and long!
It may be that to spy thee He is mounting
Upon a tower,
Or in thy counting
Thou hast mista’en the hour.
But, if He comes not, neither do thou go
Till Vesper chime,
Belike thou then shalt know
He hath been with thee all the time.

Collect for the Day
My Lord and friend, in the quietness of this hour, reconcile my contrary motives and conflicting desires. Give me a singleness of purpose that I may come into your presence unashamed and sit under your gaze without blushing. Amen. [479:275]


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