Michelangelo Buonarroti: Jonah
Cappella Sistina, The Vatican, 1511
Wednesday of the First Week of Lent
Reading I: Jon 3:1-10
The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, "Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you." So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord (NRSV, Jon 3:1-3).
Let us pray.
Father, I have always thought of Jonah as one who could not stand up and face the destiny to which you call us. He hoped, by fleeing to escape from your presence. But there is no escaping, Lord, not that you pursue us but that, in your Word spoken to us, you are always with us calling us to repentance, forgiveness and further growth in your life.
When Michelangelo painted Jonah on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, he envisaged a different Jonah, this one naked and daring, challenging you with rebellious contempt, but also in the process of conversion, his defiance being transformed by the elation and happiness that comes from the reacceptance of your life, Father, and renewal of the sonship that he had once affirmed in his mother’s womb.
All of us, Father, have experienced moments of behavior like those of Jonah when, succumbing to the enticements of the sin of the world or our own delights, we either try to flee from you or to stand defiant in your presence. How grateful we are that, despite what we do, you never abandon us but remain present to us in your Word always offering renewed acceptance and life.
May we, like Jonah, finally listen to your invitation and your challenge. Having allowed your forgiveness and new life to transform us in ever increasing measure, may we too bear witness to your presence and universal call to repentance and salvation to all of our sisters and brothers.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.