Friday, February 24, 2017

Patristic Wisdom: Looking to Sunday

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry.  So he prayed to the Lᴏʀᴅ, and said, “Ah, Lᴏʀᴅ, was not this what I said when I was still in my country?  Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.”  (Jnh 4:1–2)

In other words, Jonah clearly indicated that this was responsible also for his flight, the realization that if in His goodness He sees them repenting, He would change His own sentence…. Hence he goes on: Therefore now, O Lᴏʀᴅ, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!…. God who is loving to the repentant and very gentle with His own, chides the prophet in a corrective manner: Is it right for you to be angry? as if to say,
You seem disappointed that so many have been saved.  You ought put the salvation of everyone ahead of your own reputation, and consider your being taken for such a person preferable to the loss of so many people.
Theodore of Mopsuestia, Commentary on Jonah

But the Lᴏʀᴅ said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night.  And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?”  (Jnh 4:10–11)

When Jonah admitted to feeling this way to the extent of preferring death to life on this account, God said: “I call you as judge.  Consider, then, if it is right for you to grieve over the pumpkin vine, which you did not cultivate, neither planting it nor watering it.  It came into being at dawn, and a worm and the sun proved its ruin at day’s end.  For my part, on the contrary, is it right for me to treat without mercy this city, which was brought into being by Me, containing more than 120,000 inhabitants who do not know their right hand from the left, and many cattle?”  Give thought to this, then, and marvel at the lovingkindness for its reasonableness.

Theodoret of Cyrus, Commentary on Jonah

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