Shouldn’t God care for the outsiders and enemies?
Should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons…and also many animals?” (Jonah 4:11)
Jonah is more than a fish story. In fact, it is a story of an unwelcome mystical experience and a reluctant prophet. When asked to preach to the enemy city of Nineveh, Jonah flees in the opposite direction. But he discovers that when it comes to God: you can run, but you can’t hide! God “catches up” with Jonah, sends a big fish to swallow him, the fish spits him up near Nineveh, and Jonah preaches doom and gloom. He hopes that the people of Nineveh don’t respond, but they do – and everyone from the king to the milk cows fast and pray. The city is spared.
Jonah is upset. Sulking in the sun, he receives divine mercy – God sends a plant to shelter him. When the plant dies, Job is upset. God responds by reminding Jonah that God cares about the Ninevites and the non-human world.
Jonah is an amazing affirmation of the non-human world – big fish are messengers of God’s vision and cattle can repent! The whole earth can experience the holy. God loves humankind, even our enemies, and God also loves the non-human world. Because God loves the non-human world, we should love it as well, treasuring and protecting the flora and fauna, creatures of land, sea, and air.
During this time of pandemic, it is often difficult to remember that the pandemic is not the whole story. These days, as a result of less industry and travel, the skies are bluer and the seas cleaner. Yet during this time, there are some who want to roll back environmental protections.
The pandemic has revealed our need to care more not only for humans but for the good earth. Let us be willing to change our ways, respond creatively to global climate change, and protect the earth for future generations.
Let us prayerfully listen to “Let All Things Now Living” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIv6XLO5Lqs
God of sky, sea, and land, we give thanks for the gifts of life. We give thanks for creation in its bounty and beauty. Help us be caretakers and gardeners of creation. Honoring all creatures and preserving our planet for generations to come. Amen.