Jonah is one of the great Bible stories. The danger with some of the Bible stories is that we may focus on the narrative details and miss the message the story is intended to convey. In the first reading of today, we heard how Jonah was called; he tried all he could to dodge the call but the hand of the Lord was heavy upon him and John was finally arrested was taken to Nineveh.

The story of Jonah is a clear fact that we cannot run away from God. Taken out of his Middle-Eastern locale, Jonah is a stand-in for all of us. God asked Jonah to challenge the Ninevites to repent – that is to change their priorities and to act accordingly. “Repent” didn’t mean to express remorse, but to recognize that they had been focusing on the wrong things, and literally to change the direction of their lives. He was told to tell them that they would face disaster if they didn’t. “Repent” was Jesus’ message to His fellow Jews over 2000 years ago; that’s exactly what He told His disciples to say as He sent them out into the hinterlands of Galilee, and that’s exactly the message He asks us, His disciples in the 21st century, to announce as well. Jonah didn’t expect the Ninevites to welcome his message. He thought they would likely kill him. After all, who wants to hear that he has his priorities all wrong? People want positive, uplifting messages. And besides: “Who gave you the right to criticize my choices?” It is a challenge. No wonder Jonah ran away when God first called him. So would we. So do we.

Note that God didn’t ask Jonah to lead a pious, religiously observant life – to say his prayers and keep all the rules faithfully. He was asked to go out of himself, to save others, to save Nineveh – the enemy!
Some of our preaching has to be by example. What are our priorities?

Are we seeking first the rule of God and His justice (as Jesus told us to do)? Or do we put those priorities in second or third or even last place? It’s sobering to realize that it’s not just Jonah who was called; each of us is called as well. While each of our calls will be different, we can know for certain that we will be asked to go out of our comfort zone, as was Jonah, to risk criticism and contempt. We’ll be asked to abandon most or all of our security systems. No wonder we want to run away.

Our Lady of the Rosary, also known as Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, is a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary in relation to the Rosary.
The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, formerly known as Our Lady of Victory and Feast of the Holy Rosary, is celebrated on 7 October, the anniversary of the decisive victory of the combined fleet of the Holy League of 1571 over the Ottoman navy at the Battle of Lepanto.
We all face our own battles, the greatest of which is our personal struggle to reject sin and embrace a life of holiness through self-sacrificing love of God and neighbour. Our personal spiritual battles truly are of great and eternal significance for our own salvation and for all those whose lives we touch. We should never try to win these conflicts alone. We need someone to strengthen us, protect us, and stay at our side. Of course, God is always with us, but He also likes to work through human instruments.

The Virgin Mary, who remained free from sin all her life, and gave birth to the Savior who crushed the head of the serpent, Satan, is always there to intercede for us in heaven. We have but to ask in order to receive Her help. She needs little convincing; her Son died for us, and gave us to her in His own place, so she loves us as her own children. One “Hail Mary” can often be enough to help us feel Her assistance.

However, Christ teaches us to persevere in prayer, and more prolonged prayer can increase our desire and readiness to receive God’s gifts. It also helps us to contemplate the mysteries of God’s goodness. It is in this spirit that we pray the Rosary, with its repetitions and mysteries. It continues to be a powerful form of prayer that can help us through difficult times in our life, as it helped the Christians in the battle of Lepanto. May Mary be close at our side this month and all year round, and may we always remember to turn to Her for protection and intercession as we fight our daily battles to free our souls of sin and spread Christ’s kingdom in our hearts and in our world.

Let Us Pray: Lord Jesus, give me grace to listen to your voice and obey you everyday. May I be ready to do your will. Amen.