But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?” And he said, “Yes, angry enough to die.” - Jonah 4:9
Each of our readings for Sunday approach the poison that anger can cause within and around us if it is allowed to fester. Stored resentments are often at the root of many instances of poor or destructive behavior. Jonah personifies this toxic resentment when he sits sulking on a hill, watching the city of Nineveh change its ways and receiving forgiveness from God. Jonah didn't want them to repent. He wanted to see them punished! He is so angry about it he'd rather die than change his heart.
I see resentment all over the news these days - people resenting that others are getting a break, people resenting that they themselves have not received what they think they've deserved, people lashing out in violence because they think their targets have somehow done them wrong or offended them in some deep way. Resentment fueled comments and behavior never lead to the best outcomes. They just fuel a race to the bottom.
For the past few Sundays, we've heard Jesus talk about forgiveness - about letting go of our resentments and starting fresh. How true forgiveness is not letting others off the hook for their bad behavior, but letting go of the heavy weight of our resentments about the past. This Sunday, we'll hear not only about poor, bitter Jonah, but also we'll read a remarkable account of Paul's unusual ability to let go of resentments, and Jesus' famous story about the man with the vineyard, which is about as sure to bring up our own resentments as any story in the entire bible!
Jesus is clearly teaching that no matter how deeply you think life - or someone - has offended us, we are called to let go of our resentments and live into forgiveness. This is an extremely challenging spiritual discipline, which may account for why the lectionary designers included so many Sunday readings in a row to address it! But for those who take this practice to heart, a new life of freedom is not far behind.
Our Sunday readings are HERE. Note that in the season of ordinary time, we are using the readings from "Track 2"