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Contemplations on the Book of Jonah, by Pope Shenouda III

6- Gentile Mariners Are Better Than Jonah

 

How wonderful were the mariners of that ship which Jonah took! It is true that they were gentiles, but they had exquisite virtues which made them surpass the great prophet, and in them was fulfilled the Lord's oracle: "And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd" (John. 10:16).

St-Takla.org         Image: The Praying Hands, painting by Albret Durar صورة: اليدين المصليتين - الفنان ألبرت دورار

St-Takla.org Image: The Praying Hands, painting by Albret Durar

صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: اليدين المصليتين - الفنان ألبرت دورار

The mariners of this ship remind me of Cornelius the centurion whose outward semblance was a gentile, alien from God's congregation, but in fact he was a God fearing virtuous man, he and all his household. He was also merciful, giving alms generously and praying constantly. He deserved to see an angel in a vision, saying to him: "your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God"(Acts 10:31).

He also deserved the descent of the Holy Spirit, together with all those who were present, when Peter was talking to them

(Acts 10).

In the realm of holiness there are many unknown persons, but they are known by name to the Lord. Such were the mariners of that ship. They had every beautiful attribute. As they lacked faith, it seemed good to God to grant it them.

It might have been a Divine disposition that Jonah took that particular ship both for his and its sake. God did not allow Jonah to go to a faraway city for his own good and for the good of the mariners. It is amazing that God prepared for him the place where he would flee to from the presence of the Lord, the place which suited him, where he heard a beneficial word, the place where he stood once more in the presence of God in order to be corrected, and we have discussed this issue before here on st-takla.org in other pages. God prepared for him the holy environment which reproached him for his escape, . He found himself among people better than himself in all respects in order to save the gift of prophesying.

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