Jonah, the prophet who did not like trouble

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No one aspires to be a prophet of doom, as Jonah thought. But like him, we are refounded by God in our vocation as prophet, free before the gaze of men, “because time is limited”.

At the sanctuary of Rocamadour stands the Black Madonna , hidden in the hollow of the rock since the 13th century. A modest virgin of wood, she watches over the seamen who invoke her in the storm. Its reproduction was placed on the tomb of Jacques Cartier in Saint-Malo. Mandated by King Francis I to lead expeditions and explore new lands, Jacques Cartier arrived in Newfoundland in twenty days and discovered Canada. In winter 1536, the Black Madonna of Rocamadour miraculously healed her crew from scurvy. From then on he devoted great devotion to him, with that mixture of faith and anxious superstition which inhabits the hearts of sailors. The immensity of the sea imposes on them humility of heart. They invoke the star of the sea, the Stella maris , when the storm rises or when bad luck has fallen on a “Jonah”. A “Jonah”, in the imagination of sailors, is someone who brings bad luck and who must be quickly gotten rid of to calm the anger of the gods and the fury of the waves.


These “divisive” prophetic words

Jonah fled the gaze of God and his vocation. It must be said that his mission was not particularly easy. To announce its destruction to the great pagan city is to risk derision and sneers at best, punishment and death at worst. “Another 40 days and Nineveh will be destroyed” ( Jn 3:4 ). It is always easier to let men purr in circles in materialism and forgetfulness of God than to speak to them a prophetic word. For example, if we dare to say that the inclusion of the freedom to abort in the Constitution or the prospect of the law of euthanasia for the most fragile is a dramatic advance in the culture of death which cries out to the Lord, or that the cabal carried out against the Stanislas college – only because this establishment still assumes to be Catholic – by those who drape themselves in republican virtue while massively placing their children in the private sector, is a perfect representation of the ball of hypocrites , some will push screams of horror. 

Others, with a solemn air, will judge that we are moving away from Jesus who was kind, and that “these young priests undoubtedly fresh out of the seminary” and “devoid of human experience” are “divisive”, this which is indeed the only mortal sin for those who have long no longer believed in mortal sin, reducing their faults to simple “irregular situations” which must above all be understood and excused. 

Let’s not look for trouble

But hey…let’s not look for trouble. Let us be careful not to dare to say such divisive words. We will avoid complaints, media cabals, petitions constituting an ultra-sensitive society, where spontaneous emotion and knee-jerk indignation take the place of analytical capacity and the ability to think. Even the great Sylvain Tesson, whose talent re-enchants the grayness of the world, is described as a “reactionary icon” and a “leading figure of the literary extreme right” (the grotesque does not kill) by 600 self-proclaimed and completely unknown artists. who would like to prevent him from sponsoring the Spring of Poets. It is therefore an honor to side with him. 

When we have passed through death, we are free to face life. We are also free from the gaze of men, from “what will people say?” »

But you have to understand Jonas. Who are we, anyway, to exhort men to conversion? They will tell us to start with ourselves, and they won’t be wrong. I probably wouldn’t have done better than Jonas. He would rather die in his bed than be called crazy or torn to pieces by a frenzied crowd. Not everyone has a vocation for martyrdom… In Asterix in Corsica , where it is easier to find a godfather than a witness, the young Roman soldier Sciencinfus, always volunteering for the mission, recalls the law and makes reports to his hierarchy, but the oldest quickly calm his untimely zeal: “Douououcement…”, “Not seen, not taken”, “To live happily let’s live hidden” and “Above all, no waves”. Jonas prefers to set sail and sets sail to escape God’s call. He does not feel the vocation of a cursed poet or a prophet of doom. 

The Lord does not give up 

But there you go… We are always caught up by the patrol, and the Lord does not give up. He

“speaks, and provokes the storm,” says the psalm, “
a wind that raises the waves:
carried up to the sky, falling back into the depths,
they were sick to the point of giving up the ghost;
they whirled, staggered like drunkards:
their wisdom was swallowed up.
In their anguish they cried out to the Lord,
and he brought them out of distress,
silencing the storm,
silencing the waves.
They rejoice to see them calmed down,
to be led to the port they desired” ( Ps 106 ). 

The sailors eventually saw the storm calm down. But it was at the cost of the loss of Jonah, whom they threw into the sea like one throwing away a ball and chain. You know the story. He was swallowed by a big fish . He lay in his bowels for three days before being spat out on the shore and receiving his mission again. What does that mean ? This is the sign that Jonah passed through death, like Jesus resurrected on the third day. The fish, ictus , in Greek, is the sign of Christ. His initials mean: Iesous Kristos Theou Uios Sôter , Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior. He is also the image of men caught in God’s nets. The entrails are the sign of the Lord’s tenderness and his mercy which remakes man, heals him, gives birth to new life. Jonah is as if refounded by God in his vocation, in his prophetic call. He receives the supreme freedom of one who has returned from death, associated in advance with the power of resurrection. 

Free from the gaze of men

When we have passed through death, we are free to face life. We are also free from the gaze of men, from “what will people say?” », to the so partial judgments of this passing world. Think of a seriously ill person who survived cancer or a man miraculously survived a serious accident. They often have a perspective on life, a wisdom, a kindness, a greater freedom. That of knowing that our days are passing like the grains of the hourglass and that we will soon be dead. That of knowing that “time is limited” ( 1Co 7:29 ) as the apostle says, literally that “time has taken up its sails”, a sailor’s expression which means “folding up one’s sails”, as one does when the ship returns to port. “Forty more days and Nineveh will be destroyed. » And you, and me, how many days do we have left before the destruction of our body and our transition to Life? “Teach us the true measure of our days,” says the psalm. Let our hearts penetrate wisdom” ( Ps 89 ). Only the hope of eternity gives its true weight to the passing of time. I think of Saint Augustine , this tired old man, while Rome is gradually falling apart under the blows of the barbarians, “these men with women’s hair” as he describes them. The Empire is rotting like a corpse because it has lost too much of its soul. Our old paganized West, undermined by ideologies, should meditate on the fall of Rome. Augustine completes a monumental work with his last work: The City of God. “The Christian is a man who, in his house as in his homeland, knows himself to be on a journey,” he writes (Sermon 110). The Christian knows that the face of this world passes away, that only charity remains, that the rest is nothing, that we sail with the wind of the seas, with the waves, under the protection of the Black Madonna, the Stella Maris , the star of the sea, but Earth is never very far away.

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