Jonah and the Good Samaritan

What a fantastic and often underestimated gift the Lectionary is! Each day the Lectionary juxtaposes readings from Moses and the Prophets with the Gospels in order that we may hear Christ’s messianic mission pronounced clearly. Each time I read the daily readings I consider what purpose the Church had in mind and often I find myself thinking with greater effort than if I hadn’t kept it in mind. So it produced fruit to ask this question about the readings; why were these two passages put together?

The readings for Monday October 5th 2009 (Jonah 1:1-16 & Jonah 2:1-11, Luke 10:25-37) perplexed me at first because the Gospel wouldn’t have been the one I would have chosen. There are plenty of Gospel readings to pair with the story of Jonah. For instance there’s Matthew 12:40, which describes Jesus directly quoting Jonah regarding a sign of the messiah. There’s also Mark 4:35-40, which depicts Jesus asleep while the Apostles fear for their lives sailing through a tempest, just as Jonah sleeps through the tempest (Jonah 1:5-6). Then there’s the parable of the Good Son (Matthew 21:28-31) and also the parable of the Prodigal Son, both of which nicely parallel Jonah’s reluctant journey and bitterness over Nineveh’s salvation (which readings follow latter in the week). We could look to the Pentecost (Acts 2:36-38) readings where the people seek to be cleared of shedding Christ’s innocent blood, just as the sailors in Jonah seek acquittal (Jonah 1:14). If we keep looking, I’m sure we’ll find more gospel readings to compare with Jonah. Yet, there was a reason why Luke was chosen over Mathew (other than this being year B, Cycle I).

What do the two readings have in common or else how are they opposed? Both Jonah and the scholar evading what God asks of them. Jonah is literally fleeing away from God while the scholar is trying to justify himself. And in each case mercy prevails. What motivated Jonah to have the men throw him overboard? Jonah knew it was his disobedience that brought calamity upon the others. He is not so innocent but even so, only a repentant and righteous man would forfeit his life for others. This is an act of mercy, so it’s easy to see Jonah as Christ like. Also when God responds to Jonah’s prayer’s and commands the fish to spew him out, this too is mercy. In the gospel parable Jesus is the personification of both the victim and the Good Samaritan and it is this example that Jesus asks the scholar and each of us to emulate. Even though the scholar’s motive was to test Him, Jesus did not condemn but rather let him, “Go and do likewise.”

Jonah 1:1-16
View in: NAB Vulg Hebrew
1Now the word of the Lord came to Jonas the son of Amathi, saying:
2Arise, and go to Ninive the great city, and preach in it: for the wickedness thereof is come up before me.
3And Jonas rose up to flee into Tharsis from the face of the Lord, and he went down to Joppe, and found a ship going to Tharsis: and he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them to Tharsis from the face of the Lord.
4But the Lord sent a great wind into the sea: and a great tempest was raised in the sea, and the ship was in danger to be broken.
5And the mariners were afraid, and the men cried to their god: and they cast forth the wares that were in the ship, into the sea, to lighten it of them: and Jonas went down into the inner part of the ship, and fell into a deep sleep.
6And the shipmaster came to him, and said to him: Why art thou fast asleep? rise up, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think of us, that we may not perish.
7And they said every one to his fellow: Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know why this evil is upon us. And they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonas.
8And they said to him: Tell us for what cause this evil is upon us, what is thy business? of what country art thou? and whither goest thou? or of what people art thou?
9And he said to them: I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord the God of heaven, who made both the sea and the dry land.
10And the men were greatly afraid, and they said to him: Why hast thou done this? (for the men knew that he fled from the face of the Lord: because he had told them.)
11And they said to him: What shall we do to thee, that the sea may be calm to us? for the sea flowed and swelled.
12And he said to them: Take me up, and cast me into the sea, and the sea shall be calm to you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.
13And the men rowed hard to return to land, but they were not able: because the sea tossed and swelled upon them.
14And they cried to the Lord, and said: 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.
15And they took Jonas, and cast him into the sea, and the sea ceased from raging.
16And the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and sacrificed victims to the Lord, and made vows.
Jonah 2:1-11
View in: NAB Vulg Hebrew
1Now the Lord prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonas: and Jonas was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
2And Jonas prayed to the Lord his God out of the belly of the fish.
3And he said: I cried out of my affliction to the Lord, and he heard me: I cried out of the belly of hell, and thou hast heard my voice.
4And thou hast cast me forth into the deep in the heart of the sea, and a flood hath compassed me: all thy billows, and thy waves have passed over me.
5And I said: I am cast away out of the sight of thy eyes: but yet I shall see thy holy temple again.
6The waters compassed me about even to the soul: the deep hath closed me round about, the sea hath covered my head.
7I went down to the lowest parts of the mountains: the bars of the earth have shut me up for ever: and thou wilt bring up my life from corruption, O Lord my God.
8When my soul was in distress within me, I remembered the Lord: that my prayer may come to thee, unto thy holy temple.
9They that are vain observe vanities, forsake their own mercy.
10But I with the voice of praise will sacrifice to thee: I will pay whatsoever I have vowed for my salvation to the Lord.
11And the Lord spoke to the fish: and it vomited out Jonas upon the dry land.
Luke 10:25-37
View in: NAB Vulg Greek
25And behold a certain lawyer stood up, tempting him, and saying, Master, what must I do to possess eternal life?
26But he said to him: What is written in the law? how readest thou?
27He answering, said: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind: and thy neighbour as thyself.
28And he said to him: Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
29But he willing to justify himself, said to Jesus: And who is my neighbour?
30And Jesus answering, said: A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, who also stripped him, and having wounded him went away, leaving him half dead.
31And it chanced, that a certain priest went down the same way: and seeing him, passed by.
32In like manner also a Levite, when he was near the place and saw him, passed by.
33But a certain Samaritan being on his journey, came near him; and seeing him, was moved with compassion.
34And going up to him, bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine: and setting him upon his own beast, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35And the next day he took out two pence, and gave to the host, and said: Take care of him; and whatsoever thou shalt spend over and above, I, at my return, will repay thee.
36Which of these three, in thy opinion, was neighbour to him that fell among the robbers?
37But he said: He that shewed mercy to him. And Jesus said to him: Go, and do thou in like manner.
Matthew 12:40
View in: NAB Vulg Greek
40For 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.
Mark 4:35-40
View in: NAB Vulg Greek
35And he saith to them that day, when evening was come: Let us pass over to the other side.
36And sending away the multitude, they take him even as he was in the ship: and there were other ships with him.
37And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that the ship was filled.
38And he was in the hinder part of the ship, sleeping upon a pillow; and they awake him, and say to him: Master, doth it not concern thee that we perish?
39And rising up, he rebuked the wind, and said to the sea: Peace, be still. And the wind ceased: and there was made a great calm.
40And he said to them: Why are you fearful? have you not faith yet? And they feared exceedingly: and they said one to another: Who is this (thinkest thou) that both wind and sea obey him?
Jonah 1:5-6
View in: NAB Vulg Hebrew
5And the mariners were afraid, and the men cried to their god: and they cast forth the wares that were in the ship, into the sea, to lighten it of them: and Jonas went down into the inner part of the ship, and fell into a deep sleep.
6And the shipmaster came to him, and said to him: Why art thou fast asleep? rise up, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think of us, that we may not perish.
Matthew 21:28-31
View in: NAB Vulg Greek
28But what think you? A certain man had two sons; and coming to the first, he said: Son, go work today in my vineyard.
29And he answering, said: I will not. But afterwards, being moved with repentance, he went.
30And coming to the other, he said in like manner. And he answering, said: I go, Sir; and he went not.
31Which of the two did the father's will? They say to him: The first. Jesus saith to them: Amen I say to you, that the publicans and the harlots shall go into the kingdom of God before you.
Acts 2:36-38
View in: NAB Vulg Greek
36Therefore let all the house of Israel know most certainly, that God hath made both Lord and Christ, this same Jesus, whom you have crucified.
37Now when they had heard these things, they had compunction in their heart, and said to Peter, and to the rest of the apostles: What shall we do, men and brethren?
38But Peter said to them: Do penance, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins: and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Jonah 1:14
View in: NAB Vulg Hebrew
14And they cried to the Lord, and said: 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.

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