Commentary on the Gospel of
Today’s reflection points to the crucial need to listen to and then to follow God’s will for our lives. However, we cannot leave it there, as thankfully there is another resounding truth in today’s Word.
We begin with the story of Jonah. It would seem that this story was made a part of God’s Holy Word for the explicit purpose of letting us know how important it is to listen to and follow God’s directives for our lives. It is interesting that the story for today picks up in chapter 3. It doesn’t touch on Jonah’s refusal to follow God’s directive for him in the first place and the consequences of that rejection. Rather it begins with Jonah heading to Nineveh, he had learned his lesson and was now following God’s will. This part of the story switches from a focus upon Jonah to a focus upon the inhabitants of Nineveh. They obviously had been living in sin, provoking God to threaten to destroy their entire city because of that sin. Jonah had just began delivering God’s message of destruction when the people, both great and small, heard Jonah’s warning from God and turned from their evil ways. They not only listened to God’s word, but they followed it. Just as Luke pointed out in today’s Alleluia: “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”
The importance of attentively listening to God is further emphasized in today’s Gospel story of Martha and Mary. In this story, Mary clearly had other responsibilities to help her sister – worldly responsibilities – but ignored them to listen to Jesus. She understood what was of highest importance, what deserved top prioritization. Jesus put it so clearly: “There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” He reminds us so powerfully that the ONE THING is a devoted attention to our triune God.
Knowing all his, I am shocked and disappointed at how often I let the cares and worries of this world take over my focus. Jesus was so profoundly clear to us that NOTHING else compares with the importance of keeping our focus solely on Him.
The resounding truth throughout today’s message thankfully goes beyond our need to listen to and follow God’s will for our lives. Yes, we so often fail at both. Yet, thankfully, we serve a God of Divine Mercy. Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska spent her life listening to God and recording those messages in her diary. She clearly laid out “God’s loving message of Divine Mercy”. That glorious fact saved Jonah. Not only did God save him from drowning, something he clearly deserved, but it also prompted God to deliver the message to him a “second time” – giving Jonah a second chance. It was that saving grace that prevented God’s destruction of Nineveh, even though they deserved destruction. Their repentance resulted in God’s forgiveness, his Divine Mercy.
Today’s Psalm points out that no one can stand because of their iniquities. Of course that includes each of us. Like Jonah and the inhabitants of Nineveh, we often fail to listen to and follow our God and Father. Yet as the Psalm points out – thankfully - with our God is forgiveness, kindness, and plenteous redemption.
Dear Heavenly Father, open our hearts and minds to your still small voice. Help us to resist the temptation of allowing the struggles of this world to crowd out our focus upon You and Your will for our lives. Forgive us and help us. Thank You so much for your truly Divine Mercy. In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen