Jonah was displeased and became very angry. He prayed to the Lord and said, "O Lord! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. And now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live." And the Lord said, "Is it right for you to be angry?"
Then Jonah went out of the city and sat down east of the city, and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, waiting to see what would become of the city. The Lord God appointed a bush, and made it come up over Jonah, to give shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort; so Jonah was very happy about the bush. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the bush, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God prepared a sultry east win, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint and asked that he might die. He said, "It is better for me to die than to live."
But God said to Jonah, "Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?" And he said, "Yes, angry enough to die." Then the Lord said, "You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labour and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?"
You are my God, have mercy on me, Lord,
for I cry to you all the day long.
Give joy to your servant, O Lord,
for to you I lift up my soul. (R./)
O Lord, you are good and forgiving,
full of love to all who call.
Give heed, O Lord, to my prayer
and attend to the sound of my voice. (R./)
All the nations shall come to adore you
and glorify your name, O Lord:
for you are great and do marvellous deeds,
you who alone are God. (R./)
Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his followers."
He said to them, "When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial."
Jonah shows the contrast between principles and their application, just as yesterday's Gospel made a contrast between contemplation (Mary) and activism (Martha).
What a glaring paradox between Jonah's creed and his actions. This prophet who claimed to worship the Lord who made the sea and the dry land seeks to flee from his mission by a long sea voyage. The paradox becomes even more poignant when eventually he has no choice but to preach to the Ninevites. He knew in his heart that God is "merciful and gracious, slow to anger and rich in kindness" but was unwilling to spread that good news. He feared that God would show compassion to that hated nation, the people of Nineveh.
Jonah cannot abide the idea of Israel's enemies receiving mercy, after the harm they had done to his own people. He had pleaded to be allowed bypass Nineveh and leave it to destruction, but he becomes angry when God fails to save the gourd plant. The selfish prophet thinks God must spare this little tree, to shade him from the fierce sun and burning east wind. God's reply ironically chides Jonah, while declaring the doctrine of universal divine mercy. "You are concerned for the plant… Should I not be concerned for Nineveh, with all its inhabitants?"
Jesus, Luke tells us, was "praying in a certain place". His prayer prompts one of his disciples to ask, "Lord, teach us to pray." We can all identify with that request, that need for guidance when it comes to prayer. In response to that request, Jesus tells us the best form of prayer. We all need to ask God's help from time to time; and Jesus teaches that our petitions should focus first on what God wants, "your name be held holy, your kingdom come," and then ask for our most basic needs.
All our prayers should spring from a basic desire that our whole human world may be transformed as God desires. Jesus goes on to name some basic gifts we really need -- the forgiveness of our sins, sustenance for the day, and God's help when our faith is put to the test. Those need to be our priority petitions, and, by implication, all other petitions must link to those fundamental ones.