The Temple and the Holy Fool!

Jonah 2:7
When my soul fainted within me,
I remembered the LORD;
and my prayer came to Thee,
into Thy holy temple.

It is worth remembering that when Jonah prayed this prayer he was not anywhere near the Holy Land.  Indeed, he was not near any land.  He was in temporary residence in the gastro-intestinal tract of a great fish somewhere beneath the waves off Asia Minor.  Despite this, though, he had confidence that his prayer went to God and (curiously) “into Thy holy temple.”  Jonah, of course, does not trouble his head at all as to the mechanics of how a prayer uttered from his current address in a fish’s gut makes it to a big stone building on a hill in Palestine.  That’s because Jonah is a prophet, not a flat-footed rationalist (which is to say, he’s a holy fool, not an earthly fool).  As a holy fool, he’s quite prepared to believe weird things in heavenly faith rather than sensible things in earthly folly.  And because of that he cuts right to the prophetic heart of things in his recognition that it isn’t stone that makes a temple, but God’s presence.  God was present with him in the belly of the fish as well as present in the temple.  Sometime later, a greater than Jonah would have his prayers heard from even more dire circumstances — the belly of the grave — and would likewise be heard by God.  He would be raised up to even greater heights than Jonah and build a new temple not made with human hands: His body, the Church. It still makes no earthly sense, but then “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25).

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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