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  • Elpidio Pezzella

Don't Run Away From God

'But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up.'

(Jonah 1:4 NKJV)

Not all of us end up in the desert like Elijah to find the lost way. There are those like Jonah who choose the sea and a ship as an escape route, but here they have to deal with the wind and the storm. The story of Jonah is synonymous with those who, keeping their eyes focused only on themselves, escape from being in front of God, and therefore at his service. It represents those who, by taking flight, place themselves in a condition of distance from God. There could be many reasons, and of various kinds; some sharable and justifiable, others incomprehensible and intolerable. On a psychological or, if you prefer, relational level, it can be assumed that at the basis of this transformation there is rancor, or an understandable resentment, towards hostile and invading people. Some have described it as ''an underground version of hatred and anger ready to explode if prompted. It is certainly a reaction to an action suffered, a withdrawal in oneself that amplifies one's pain by silencing everything else". But there is not always a trigger pain. In fact, one can often be the victim of one's own paranoia, pouring out the consequences on others. In the specific case, Jonah appears, in his being stubborn, tormented and persecuted by God, Who almost takes him by the hair to lead him to do what he wants, like a parent who grabs his capricious child by the arm and pushes him away from toys.


It could be hypothesized that Jonah is in the throes of a persecution complex, which keeps him away from the truth, constantly covered up by his belief that he is on the side of reason. A little like what happened to Elijah when he ran away from Jezebel. In this push and pull with the Lord the events take on an ironic tone in some ways, for others they are imbued with divine mercy. By retracing them, each one will be able to grasp in them aspects that can be actualized in his current vicissitudes. Initially, Jonah is sent to Nineveh, the great and bloody city, to denounce the evil that Israel has also been a victim of. He apparently runs away for no reason. The Assyrian capital is the great monster, and going into the monster's mouth scares anyone. We all know the silent company of fear when we flee and refuse to be who we are. The prophet is also upset, he feels the burden of a mission that he does not share and tries to escape from responsibilities, but he will soon discover that we cannot escape from God, especially when He does not accept that he remains indifferent to the need that surrounds us.


The first weapon prepared against Jonah is a strong wind. The verb "sent out" contains the idea of the strength deployed by the Lord, which leads to "a great storm". The wind should have been enough to lead the prophet back in his footsteps. The story of Elijah fleeing on the mountain was to suggest to him what that strong wind was (1Ki 19:11). Not only the passage, but the presence of the Eternal does not grant truce to those who balk or try to put their conscience to sleep. The context of the ship in a storm is proof of this, even offering us the paradox of sailors trying to save the life of the apathetic Jonah. How many times has life shown us subjects, deemed too hastily insensitive or without faith, to set themselves up as teachers of so-called believers. The prophet ran away from fear, thus silencing his faith. The "frightened" sailors, on the other hand, pray, reacting in faith. The disciples on the lake were reprimanded by the Master who addressed their fear as a lack of faith. Perhaps we should open our eyes and realize who is at our side, who is the One who has called us to serve him, and never to run away. “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning,And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me” (Psalms 139:7-10).



Weekly Bible Reading

Plan #47

November 15, Ezekiel 1-2; Hebrews 11:1-19

November 16, Ezekiel 3-4; Hebrews 11:20-40

November 17, Ezekiel 5-7; Hebrews 12

November 18, Ezekiel 8-10; Hebrews 13

November 19, Ezekiel 11-13; James 1

November 20, Ezekiel 14-15; James 2

November 21, Ezekiel 16-17; James 3


 

Photo by Igor Kasalovic, www.freeimages.com

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