Monday, October 05, 2009

No escape

It doesn't happen often that the Mass readings "match"; the first reading and Gospel tend to run in their own cycle, and they're not planned with reference to each other. So it's always serendipitous (better, "Providential") when they have a common thread. And today could be one of those days, even if it doesn't immediately look like it.
The first reading is the very beginning of the book of Jonah: from "the Word of the Lord came to Jonah" up to the whale incident. The Gospel is the teaching on the two great commandments, a teaching provoked when a scribe attempted a "trick" question.
Jonah and the scribe are both faced with clear messages from God. Naturally, both try to escape: Jonah by sea, and the scribe with a diversionary tactic: a question he hoped would sidetrack Jesus--but which Jesus used, instead, to drive his point home with unmistakable (inescapable!) clarity.
If you were to ask Jonah and the scribe for advice afterwards, I suspect they would each say something like this: Don't put God on the spot. He owns the spot.

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