Merciful and Gracious God
- Reading I: Jonah 4:1-11
- Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 86
- Gospel Reading: Luke 11:1-4
I Knew That Your Were A Gracious and Merciful God
Jonah resented the fact that Nineveh should be spared. It was a future enemy after all — one that would cause the destruction of Israel. He wished that despite his preaching, the Ninevites would go on with their god-less lives and be destroyed by the wrath of God. But inspite of Jonah, the Ninevites repented. Jonah expresses the reason for his resentment thus:
This is why I fled at first to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, rich in clemency, loathe to punish.
Jonah, in fact, is like those who think that God is unfair when he allows the sinner to repent and live (cf. Ezekiel 18:25-29). Perhaps, Ezekiel 18 is the inspiration for the story of Jonah, only this time it is applied to an international setting.
The lesson of the gourd plant — one that grows quickly and then dies as quickly — serves to highlight the narrow-mindedness of Jonah. He regrets losing the plant because it gave him shade, but he does not think much of the Ninevites who are far more valuable to God’s eyes than a gourd plant.
More about Jonah’s Gourd Plant
The Disciples’ Prayer
Luke’s version of the Our Father is much shorter than that found in Matthew (6:9ff) and placed in a context that is quite similar. Matthew includes the Lord’s Prayer within the Sermon On The Mount, making it paradigmatic prayer of the Disciple. In the Matthaean version, Jesus instructs his disciples to pray in the same spirit as he prays (houtos) Luke on the other hand places the Lord’s Prayer as Jesus journeys towards Jerusalem, and turns it into a distinctive prayer for the disciples. He also tells them it should be their prayer (otan proseucesqe legete) Because it is much shorter and simpler in Luke, some scholars regard it as at least the one closer to the original.
Some years back, a Spanish bible scholar translating Luke’s Greek back into Aramaic rendered pater as Abba. "Abba" is undoubtedly a ipsissimum verbum Iesu (the very word of Jesus). Even Paul, preaching to the Gentiles, has been struck by it to such an extent that he even incorporates it into his doctrine of the Christian’s filiation (cf. Galatians 4:6; Romans 8:15). Seeing that Luke was writing within the Pauline tradition, and that Paul has these two texts wherein he has pater translating "Abba", our scholar was prompted to "retrotranslate" Luke 11:2’s pater as "Abba". If our bible scholar has hit upon the original wording of the Lord’s prayer — at least in this place — then we can safely say two things: (a) the Lord is passing on his own way of addressing the Father, and (b) the Lord, invites his own disciples to enjoy the same intimacy that he has with the Father.
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