Day 181: Jonah and the Whale

The Book of Jonah

Author and Date:


Main Themes:

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Jonah 1:1 This book is unusual among the prophetic literature for its lack of prophecies. It functions primarily as a moral lesson, illustrating God’s mercy in response to desires and deeds of repentance. It ranks among the best-known stories of the Old Testament.

Ch 1:1-3 Jonah’s initial response to God’s call was to flee since he did not want Nineveh to be spared from destruction. (CCC 29, 1656-1657, 2226, 2232, 2461)

Ch 1:4-16 The sailors, though pagans, were men of good will with some religious sentiments. In the time of crisis, they prayed to their gods; and when Jonah volunteered to be cast overboard, they refused to do so at first, only accepting the idea with great sorrow and prayer for forgiveness. In a last desperate moment, they called upon the Lord himself, the One True God, and when the storm abated, they honored God with sacrifices of thanksgiving.

Ch 1:4-16 This book does not need to be taken as a literal historical account. In fact, many Church Fathers viewed the Book of Jonah, or at least some of its elements, as a literary work intended to teach truths about God and his relationship with human beings. 

Three days: This prefigures the three days Christ spent in the tomb before rising again. Christ himself used the story of Jonah in his preaching; noting the repentance of the ancient Ninevites and contrasting them to the skeptical Jews of his day, he referred to himself as “something greater than Jonah” (cf. Mt 12:41). Later, in reaction to arrogant requests for miraculous signs, he said that the only sign given would be the “sign of Jonah,” (Mt 12:39-40), a clear foretelling of his own Death and Resurrection. (CCC 590, 627, 994)

Ch 2:1-10 Jonah underwent his own conversion experience in the belly of the whale. His prayer of distress acknowledged his situation-likened here to Sheol, the place of the dead-and he prayed to God for mercy and deliverance. (CCC 627, 2585)

Ch 3:1-10 The now-obedient Jonah preached so effectively that the entire city of Nineveh, led by its own king, repented and called for a period of fasting. Thus, Nineveh was spared the anticipated destruction by God’s mercy. This event foreshadows the positive response on the part of sinners and Gentiles to Christ’s invitation to repentance and conversion. (CCC 1307)

Ch 4:1-11 Jonah resented God’s mercy toward the Ninevites and was disappointed that Nineveh was not destroyed. If Jonah cared about a withered plant that grew and died without his intervention, how much more must God care for the people of Nineveh, who are works of his own creation made in his image and likeness? (CCC 239, 2416)

So....Let’s talk about the WHALE in the room, shall we? Did the story of Jonah and the Whale really happen??🤔 What are we, as Catholic Christians to believe? 🤔🤔 Well, I’ve got you all covered...please read this from Catholic Answers and decide for yourself: 

Psalm 138 This psalm of praise eagerly anticipates the day when the whole earth will honor and offer praise to God. God’s infinite grandeur and transcendence is certainly no obstacle to his love for every person, especially the poor and weak; furthermore, it is the poor and humble who enjoy special closeness to God. This singular care for everyone, especially the downtrodden, serves as a model for all rulers and people of good will. (Cf. Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, December 7, 2005)

I...give thanks to...your faithfulness: Steadfast love and faithfulness are two defining characteristics of God as are his trustworthiness, constancy, kindness, goodness, grace, and truth. (CCC 214, 304)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and thank you so much. Lord you do, you see us and you observe us, you watch us, and not just watch us to bust us, right? Lord God, you don’t just watch us to catch us doing something wrong. You are attentive to us. You attend to us, which makes no sense, Lord God, because you are the God of the universe. And yet, these people, us that you have made in your image and likeness, you attend to us with the love of a Father, because you have made us your sons and your daughters. And so we thank you. And we know that you hear every one of our prayers. We know that you know all of our needs. And so in this moment we bring our hearts to you, God. Not just my words here, but the words, the heart, the needs, the desires of every person listening to these words, Lord God. I know that you know us. You know us by name. And every person who is listening to these words with a desire in their heart, with grief in their heart, with hope or joy or love in their heart, every person listening to these words, Lord God, you know the secret of the heart. And you are the answer. You are the answer to the questions of our hearts, to the grief of our hearts, to the brokenness of our hearts. You are the answer. And so we praise you and we pray to you and we love you. May you be glorified, Lord God, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”