Sunday, January 25, 2009  Work on that superiority that you might feel towards other religions.

Homily, Sunday, January 25, 2009

Fr. Kirity Podula

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ, we have an entertaining story for you today in the First Reading about the Prophet Jonah. The story goes like this.

“There was an enormous city, Nineveh, wealth and successful but totally immoral. God decided to offer them a chance to repent so He sent the Prophet Jonah to preach to them. But Jonah has his own ideas. He was a Jew and believed that only Jews should receive favors from God. He did not want the evil people from Nineveh, Gentiles, to reform their lives and thus receive favors from God. Jonah decided not to go t Nineveh. He went down to the sea, got on aboard a ship and went in the opposite direction. The ship ran into a terrible storm and was in danger of a shipwreck. The sailors on board were praying to their gods, trying to appears them. They discovered that Jonah was running away from his God so they tossed Jonah over board – and the seas calmed down.

Meanwhile Jonah did not drown, but was swallowed by a large fish. He stayed three days and three nights in the belly of the large fish and then was deposited on shore.

Our First Reading today pick up the story of Jonah and describes his second mission to preach to the people of Nineveh. He is enormously successful. After only preaching one day, all the people and the King as well agree to do penance.

Jonah, instead of being happy that his mission was successful, was sad because he hated the Nenevites because they were pagans and did not want them to receive God’s forgiveness. Jonah was a bigot.

The story of Jonah is just that – a story – used in the Bible to teach a lesson. The lesson is this. God loves all people and wants all to be saved. We should love all people. Jonah was narrow-minded and hated those who were not Jews, going contrary to God’s wishes. Jonah suffered from bigotry - -thinking that the people of Nineveh were unworthy of God’s forgiveness. The story is told to help people like Jonah to see themselves as bigots and to begin to change their attitudes. Reform your lives as Jesus says in the gospel.

Bigotry is an ugly word and while we readily recognize bigotry in others, few of us are willing to admit that there is any bigotry in us, where religions is concerned. Perhaps a few questions would help.  Do I truly believe the reign of God and the good new of salvation are for all without exception? Are there differences between God’s concerns and my own?

Perhaps there is a little bit of Jonah in each one of use. Every person has the freedom to follow his or her conscience.

Bigotry is the intolerance of any belief, creed or opinion different from your own. As Catholics we claim to have the true religion and then might be intolerant of other religions. Week of Unity – other religions – Protestants, some we might be okay with – but what about Baptists, or Holy Rollers, various cults, Muslims, Jews? Work on that superiority that you might feel towards other religions.

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