|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
God’s Love is Boundless
The Bible is often considered a book but it is better understood as a library of books of different genres assembled into one book. The “Book of Jonah” is an unusual book insofar as it is very short story but it is also satirical. It is intentionally constructed to do what satire does; to poke fun to reach truth.
The purpose of the book of Jonah is to make fun of the Israelites themselves. It was written by one of them to make fun of them. Jonah was told to go and preach repentance and not even one day into it they all turn around and they repent. Jonah is ticked off big time because he preached destruction and instead God relents. “In three days,” he said, “your city will be destroyed.” Now he feels like a fool.
Jonah says, “God, what are you doing? You told me that the whole city was going to be destroyed and now you’re changing your mind? You cannot change your mind. You are immovable. You cast people into hell. Isn’t that what you told me? You told me you were going to destroy them?” God, as the book tells us, laughs at Jonah and then starts to poke fun at Jonah. He gives him the shade of a tree and then he removes it. Jonah starts whining again and so on the fun goes.
The whole message is that God’s mercy knows no bounds. The Jewish laws cannot contain God’s law of love. The law cannot contain God. God’s mercy and love is above all of it. If God wants to change his mind and turn around and give salvation to all, it is his to do. That is exactly the purpose of that satirical Book of Jonah. We should get that message loud and clear: God’s love knows no bounds and will not be contained by religious laws.
In the Gospel Jesus does something similar: Jesus tells the religious leaders, the Pharisees, Sadducees and the Scribes who are complaining about him sitting with sinners, God’s love cannot be held inside the laws of man. God’s love is boundless.
Our role is to open the doors of the church to everybody, to remind the world that God loves every one of us without condition. Our role is to help them to accept that gift. We do so by being like Jesus and being part of God’s boundless love to others especially those most in need. Today, can we give our love away to someone who is in need without judgment or condition? God’s love knows no bounds.