labyrinthine ways

Mar 4, 2020

Many of the greatest stories ever told are in the Bible: accounts of people healed, transformed and raised from the dead in the New Testament, and in the Old Testament stories of worlds being created, waters parted and even whales housing fear-filled prophets for three days and nights. What more could we want in an adventure?

And the more remarkable fact is that each of these extraordinary accounts is a true encounter between God and humans.

Even more wonderful is that the age of these awesome actions of God in the otherwise mundane lives of ordinary humans like you and I is not past. God is as active today as God ever was.

Note the end of today’s gospel when Jesus (who knew the Jonah story well) concludes his reminder of repentance using the example of Jonah stating: “There is something greater than Jonah here.”

I like Jonah because he’s a bit like me. I like the way that he recognises the call of God for him, then gets a bit scared and runs in the opposite direction. I like the way that God chases him, “with unhurrying chase and unperturbed pace” (in the words of Francis Thompson’s The Hound of Heaven) “down the labyrinthine ways of my own mind.”

And I especially like the way that God managed to work effectively through the resistant and stubborn Jonah, since the real protagonist in this story is not Jonah, but the God who pursues  sinners with love and merciful embrace.

Thanks be to God.

An invitation:

  • Here’s something a bit different for the drive to work this morning. Francis Thompson’s poem. Don’t try to understand it – just listen as you might to music in the background, noticing the words and phrases that most speak most powerfully to you.

12 Comments

  1. Dravest?

    Reply
    • 🙂 Dravest? Made me look. Thank you,

      Reply
  2. Powerful

    Reply
  3. A beautiful Ode (Psalm 139) from the ‘compassionate heart’ of my loving God who contains me in my human plight. +
    Thank you, Father John, for sharing Francis Thompson’s lyrical poem this Lent … a mellow time of transformation.

    Reply
  4. Arise ! Take My hand and come! What an invitation……Thank you for this mornings reflection .Much to ponder!

    Reply
  5. Wow! Powerful. Thank you.

    Reply
  6. Thank you Fr John. More to reflect upon and to explore deeply.

    Reply
  7. Thank you Fr John. More to reflect upon and to explore deeply.

    Reply
  8. I was introduced to this poem by a nun in the 6th form. Not sure of her motivation but it put the fear of God into our teenage minds. Indeed ’heaven and I wept together.’ Revisiting it today, it’s an extraordinary work conjuring up the restlessness and torment we all – prodigal sons and daughters – endure as we struggle with our shadow side. That voice evoking Thompson’s poetic synaesthesia is a traffic stopper. A challenging reflection John.

    Reply
  9. Wonderful I didn’t appreciate or understand The Hound of Heaven when a girl at school thank you Father

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  10. We all seemed to know of ‘The Hound of Heaven’ from our school days (especially the first verse) but I have never read the whole poem and I have certainly never heard it read so evocatively. Thank you for giving me much to mull over today!

    Reply
  11. Father John, this is my favourite poem that has been my challenge Father John, this has been my favourite poem since my final days at college when I was trying to ignore Christ’s invitation. It has encouraged me through many dark days. Now I await the final invitation: “Rise, clasp my hand and come.” Your reflections are a treasure.

    Reply

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