Have Mercy Now, Not Later!

Jonah 2:1

Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish.

Most people think Jonah refused to go on his mission because he was afraid people wouldn’t listen to him. In reality, Jonah refused to go because he was afraid they would. He was sent to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria. Assyrians were the Nazis of the ancient world: incredibly brutal, militaristic and proud of it. They left in their wake uprooted populations, devastated nations, and mounds of human heads. Jonah feared that they would hear his prophetic call, repent, and not get the comeuppance they so richly deserved. So he skipped town — and wound up in the belly of the fish. But here, the other side of his personality shone. He not only believed God would have mercy on Assyria, he believed God would have mercy on him. He prayed, not after his rescue, but when there was no hope of it in sight. God heard his prayer, and sent the prophet back to his work with Assyria — and they repented. God calls us to the same radical mercy and he is not averse to putting us in the belly of the fish till we extend to our neighbor the same mercy we ask for ourselves. Today, have mercy before you wind up in the fish’s belly. It will do you and your enemy good!

Mark Shea


Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog and regularly blogs for National Catholic Register. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.

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