“Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths, guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior.” Psalm 25:4-5
Last week we talked about the first intuition we had of God’s presence in our lives—and how that insight matches perfectly with our own very human desire for fulfillment. Today, I’d like to dwell on the scripture from the Book of Psalms that gives us a path forward.
“Teach me your ways…” We say this in prayer all the time. We ask the Lord to show us how to better reflect his love and compassion. And we pray for the strength to witness that love even when it’s hard.
This is what we pray for—an understanding of what God is calling us to be, and the courage to accept the invitation. We pray about it because witnessing God’s love isn’t always easy, right? Jonah is a good example of how our lives can go off track. Today’s reading needs a little context but it’s still a teaching moment. Jonah had disobeyed God and found himself in a tight spot. But God being God, Jonah got a second chance. When he obeyed God’s will by going to Nineveh to preach repentance, two things happened: that act not only saved the lives of the Ninevites, it was going to save Jonah’s life, too. But Jonah had trouble being magnanimous. He was mad because God spared the Ninevites, too.
What does this story say about forgiveness—one of the central practices of our faith? Is it only good “for me” but “not for you”? The lesson is that God cares for all of us, even the sinner, and maybe especially the sinner. God’s grace and offer of salvation are infinite. Our calling is nothing more than to receive these gifts with gratitude and then pass them on.
Any of us, including Jonah and the Ninevites, can enter the Kingdom of God. That’s because God practices mercy. And that’s why we should, too
Friend, when you pray, asking God to show you the way toward salvation, accept that finding your unique path is linked to three healing graces: mercy, forgiveness, and kindness. Embrace all three. Then yes, pass them on.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Father Raymond J. Finch, M.M.
Prayer for 4th Sunday
Lord Jesus, your daughter Dorothy Day,
Servant of God, admonished us
saying, “We only love God as much
as the person we love the least.”
Help us, like her, to see you
even in the least likable people
for whom, like us, you also came
to live and die and rise again.
You gave us the sign of Jonah
not just by lying in the tomb
for three days but also in having
the Gentiles, the Ninevites,
respond to Your powerful
words of prophecy calling all to repentance.
May we never withhold Your mercy
from others especially those who seem to us most lost.
Help us to break down the barriers
that divide Your children between “us” and “them”
and to cross borders of race, religion, and politics
that from the diversity of cultures and peoples
we might help You establish Your kingdom
where all are welcome and equal In Your sight.
Prayer by Maryknoll Missioner, Father Joseph Veneroso