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Contemplations on the Book of Jonah, by Pope Shenouda III

19- God For All People


One of God's beautiful attributes is that He takes all sorts of people and appoints for them portions in His kingdom.

In the Holy Bible we find different kinds of mentality and spirituality. The kingdom of God is likened to a net let down in the sea gathering all sorts. God called Jonah the obstinate who held to his word. He also called a doubtful man like Thomas and a rash person like Peter. He called a gentle and patient person like Moses, and a fiery person like Elijah. He called Abraham who used to fear and say that Sarah was his sister, and made him the father of all believers. These are different kinds of people whom God takes and works in them with His Grace and His Holy Spirit.         Image: Jesus Christ with Four Evangelists from the Coptic iconography صورة: السيد المسيح مع الإنجيليين الأربعة، صورة من الأيقونات القبطية Image: Jesus Christ with Four Evangelists from the Coptic iconography

صورة: السيد المسيح مع الإنجيليين الأربعة، صورة من الأيقونات القبطية

It is as if these types of people are a log of wood taken by the "Son of the carpenter" who works with them. He takes part of this beam of wood by the plane, part o f it by the saw, and part by hammer. 'thus He keeps sawing, cleaning, and cutting it, making a pattern from it and nailing it until it becomes a nice chair for Him to rest in. Or as though we are a piece of clay handled by the Great Potter, who moulds it until it becomes a vessel for honor. He is God whose Spirit was hovering over the face of the waters and continued to work until He changed the earth which was desolate, void and covered in darkness into this beautiful nature of whose beauty poets and writers sing.

This is what God did with Jonah, with the people of Nineveh and with the mariners. He worked in them all until He altered them into holy temples for His Spirit and granted them purity and sanctity that the excellence of power may be of God and not of us (2 Cor. 4:7) and even if anybody glories let him glory in the Lord (2 Cor. 10:17) and so that no one desponds of his salvation or of others' salvation. He is God who brings sweet out of the strong (Judg. 14:14).

Therefore let no one say: "My nature is bad, and even worse than the earth which was desolate, void and covered in darkness. I have tried myself and found that I cannot change, and the father confessors, spiritual guides and teachers have become weary of trying to reform me, and we have discussed this issue before here on in other pages. It appears that I will remain in the darkness that was before creation, because the voice of God has been echoing in my ears for the last twenty years saying, 'Let there be light', and I am still in darkness".

No, my brother. Do not despond. He who worked in Jonah is able to work in you also. He who worked in the Ninevites and the mariners is capable of working in you also. He who changes the mud into a vessel for honor is also able to change you in some way.

Be patient and wait on the Lord. But this does not mean that you lax and slacken and remain in the mud until the Potter comes.

Repentance needs two things: Work from God and response from man, as the mariners responded to God's call and believed and made vows, and as the Ninevites responded and repented returning from their evil ways, and as Jonah responded at the end.

Another lesson we take from the Book of Jonah is that God, despite His infinite greatness, likes to reason with man.                     Divider فاصل - موقع الأنبا تكلاهيمانوت

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