The anger of Jonah looks silly! (and so does ours)

Now this is just silly.

Now this is just silly.

The prophet Jonah was called to go to his enemy and offer up the hope and Grace of God. After his epic struggle of accepting this call to go to "those people", Jonah sat outside the city and waited for God to rain down wrath on "those people". And, of course we know now, this wrath never happened. Jonah got angry at the whole thing and the story ends with God asking Jonah if it is okay for Jonah to care about a plant then shouldn't it be okay for Got to care about people and animals? 

It has been said that you can go to the area of Nineveh and look up and still see Jonah, sitting there on the top of the cliff looking down, angry that the destruction of "those people" never happened. 

It is silly to think that someone would be that angry for that long about anything. It is silly to be in the base of the valley and look up to see one angry person just sulking. It is silly to see one person get so caught up in anger. Looking at another person who is angry give us a different perspective on our own anger. 

Just as Jonah looks silly, so too we look silly when we are angry. There is much to be concerned about in this world, and those concerns can stoke strong emotions, but let us remember that anger was one of the things the desert fathers/mothers taught seekers to be cautious to embrace.

Just a few sayings:

Abbot Ammonas said that he had spent fourteen years in Scete praying to God day and night to be delivered from anger.

Agathon said, “Even if a person raises the dead but is full of anger, that person is not acceptable to God.”

James O. Hannay in his book, The Wisdom of the Desert, even speaks of the Fathers teachings on anger in this way:

The only point which is really peculiar in the hermits' teaching about anger is that the possibility of righteous anger is altogether denied. No matter how wicked a brother might be, or how serious the consequence of his sin, it was not right to be angry with him. To try to cure another of sin by angry denunciation was the same thing as for a physician to try to cure his patient by inoculating himself with a similar fever, for to be angry even with sinfulness is to sin.

May we be a people who sit in the valley with the Ninevites and repent of our misdoings and have pity on Jonah who sits on the edge of our city, praying for our demise.

This is difficult to do, not of least of which because we are not talking about repenting quite as much as we once did. Just doing a quick search take a look at how the term 'repent' has declined in usage over the decades.