Discernment: In today’s first reading, Jonah 1: 1-2: 2, 11, we read about Jonah running away from the Lord, who had commissioned him to go to Nineveh, to “preach against it” because “their wickedness has come up before me.” Jonah connects with a ship going to Tarshish in an effort to escape the Lord’s will. A violent storm erupts and the ship is about to sink. The crew is frantic. Jonah is sound asleep in “the hold of the ship.” He knows why the storm has erupted and admits to running from the Lord. To save everyone, the crew tosses Jonah off the ship. Everything calms down. Jonah is swallowed up by a whale for three days and three nights. At God’s commands, the whale coughs him up on the shore of Nineveh! God’s will prevails! We really do not escape carrying out God’s commands, though we may certainly attempt to do so.
Part of discerning the will of God in our lives is learning to listen to the turbulence, the discomfort, the tempests that rise up. There is a reason! When we are running away from the Lord like Jonah had been, we do know why we run into stormy weather, so to speak. And, if we do not know, those around us do, as did the crew. It simply calls for honesty on our part and on the part of those involved in our lives at the time. Sometimes, however, a turbulence is simply a turbulence and it is not connected to us being off course with our God any more than Jesus was off course when he clashed with the Pharisees, the Sadducees and teachers of His day. How did Jesus know? He knew because He and the Father were of one heart, one mind, one soul and every day He conversed with His Father. We, too, will know as Jesus knew as we grow in intimacy with the Lord, taking time daily to commune with God our Father.