Saturday, 17 September 2011

Holy Prophet Jonah

Icon, Holy Prophet Jonah, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011
Jonah the Prophet

Jonah is the fifth of the minor prophets found in the Hebrew scriptures.  While the Church has always considered the story of Jonah, found in the Book of the same name, to be based on actual fact, many modern day scholars -- including some Catholics -- interpret the story as a fanciful folk tale.

The story, as most people know, is about a prophet who is called by God to go and prophesy to the great City of Nineveh.  Because of the wickedness of those who live there, God plans to destroy the City.  However, in His mercy, he seeks to warn them first so that they might repent and be saved.  This is what he calls Jonah to do -- go to Nineveh and call them to repentance.

Jonah, not wanting to do this, tries to flee from God by taking a ship to a place in the opposite direction to Nineveh.  This foolish act almost cost the life of Jonah as well as all the crew on the ship.  A great storm arises at sea and the ship is in danger of sinking.  The people on the ship assume this is happening because someone on board has made the "gods" angry.  These pagans were all praying to their various gods when Jonah steps forward and tells them that he is the cause of all their problems.  He confesses to them that he is disobeying God and that the sailors should throw him overboard and by this action, they will save themselves.  In their fear, they agree and throw Jonah into the raging sea.  Immediately, the sea becomes calm while they see Jonah being swallowed by a great fish.  He spends three days in the belly of the fish and on the third day the fish spits him out on land -- just outside the City of Nineveh!

Jonah then goes on to prophesy as God had requested, the people of Nineveh repent, God relents and the City and its people are saved.  There are other interesting events that occur but I will leave those to you to discover.  Besides this account, Jonah is also mentioned in the Old Testament book of II Kings 14:25.  However, the most significant reference to Jonah occurs in the New Testament. This reference is deemed by Catholics to remove all doubt as to the fact of the story of Jonah. The Jews asked a "sign" — a miracle to prove the Messiahship of Jesus. He made answer that no "sign" would be given them other than the "sign of Jonah the Prophet. For as the Jonah was in the whale's belly three days and nights: so shall the Son of man be in the heart of the earth three days and nights. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation and shall condemn it: because they did penance at the preaching of Jonah. And behold a greater than Jonah here" (Matthew 12:40-1; 16:4; Luke 11:29-32).

There has also been a debate over the years about the meaning of Jonah's name. The name is usually taken to mean "dove", but in view of the complaining words of the Prophet (Jonah 4), it is not unlikely that the name is derived from the root Yanah, meaning to mourn. This interpretation goes back to St. Jerome (Comm. on Jonah, iv, 1). 

As for my experience in drawing this icon, I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  I delighted in creating the "big fish" and I truly enjoyed getting better acquainted with Jonah, himself!  I hope this icon gives you a window into the divine joy and, dare I say, whimsy of our loving God!

Elephant Babies

I do enjoy elephants -- not quite as much as I enjoy Bears, but close.  These photos of elephant babies all make me either laugh or say "poor baby" so I thought I would share them with you and see what you think.

 Just a baby and already approaching 500 lbs.!

Poor baby.  I do hope his mother is close by and can come to the rescue. 
Sadly, he may end up with a piece of his trunk missing!

Elephant babies learn early how to say "I love you" in their language!

The saddest part of thinking about elephants is being aware of how many adult elephants are killed by poachers who kill and then cut off the ivory tusks and leave the carcass behind to rot.  Woe to any babies left behind when the whole group of adults are killed.  All this for the sake of dust collectors made of ivory and sold in souvenir shops!  How very tragic.

Suki and Sallie

Suki has been trying to get me to play with her -- not the gentle play that I like but the rough stuff that she seems to like.  I refuse to co-operate as I hate to see her with her ears lowered and her pupils extra large.  I told her just a short while ago that I wouldn't even consider putting on my oven mitts and playing rough until she lets me cut her nails!  She refused; so I refused and now she is sulking in the other room.  What interesting creatures cats are -- and how frustrating they can be at times as well!

I am feeling great at the moment as I just came home from the gym and cleaned up and those little endorphins are still roaming around up there in my brain, making me feel good.  I now understand why exercise can become addictive!
Yesterday, my dear friend, Amra, brought me some special treats she had cooked so I am just about to go and prepare a delicious meal for myself.  After my workout, I deserve to treat myself.  Thanks, Amra!


Finally, my attempt at telling a joke!

This photo reminds me of that old joke about Fred.  Fred fell over a cliff while out hiking alone.  On the way down, he managed to reach out and grab onto a small tree jutting out from the side of the canyon wall.  He was safe for the moment, but he knew he could only hang on for just so long.  He frantically began to yell up towards the top of the cliff, shouting: "Is there anybody up there?  I need help!"

After shouting for a few moments, he suddenly heard a voice saying:  "I am up here, Fred.  This is God speaking and I can see that you need some help right away.  What would you like for me to do for you?"

Fred, now almost sobbing with relief and amazement, called back:  "Oh, God, I am so glad you exist and that you are willing to help me.  Please get me out of this predicament and back to a safe place."

God said, "Certainly I will help you.  Do you trust me?"

Fred sobbed out, "Yes, Lord, you know I trust you."

"Then" said God, "I want you to let go of that tree and I will catch you and return you to solid ground."

For the next moment, all was silent.  Then Fred cried out once again: "Is there anybody else up there?"

May the peace of God be with us all.
Holy Jonah, pray for us.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a great post you've done! The whale is really quite funny, it makes your drawing very special. I'm sure others will like it too. The joke goes very well with the story about Jonah. I hope my "gift" tasted good. Suki needs to play just like you need to go to the gym. A.