There is something that rises within us when we see that justice is not achieved and carried out. Sometimes it can be born from a negative reaction on our part. For example, someone has cheated us or we have been offended by what another has done to us. We notice a hidden evil within that is ready to manifest in one way or another if it is ever given the chance. We may even observe wrong committed and it seems so unfair. The name that we can give to this evil hidden in our hearts is revenge.

In the New Testament Jesus teaches his disciples about the evil of  revenge.  He teaches his disciples to turn the other cheek and to love our enemies, those that commit wrong towards us. This is a great challenge to us to heed the teachings of Jesus on this topic. The heart can be a devious thing as Jeremiah prophesies. Outwardly we may seem very forgiving and ready to excuse but underneath there can be another force operating us that is revenge. It’s as if we saying, “One day you’re going to get it, just you wait”

Jonah is taught a lesson. Rather than rejoicing at what God has achieved with the Ninevites, that is their repentance; Jonah is “greatly displeased and angry that God did not carry out the evil he threatened against Nineveh”. In a humorous touch the Lord dialogues with this sullen character. “Have you any reason to be angry?”. God tries to reason with Jonah. God seeks to remedy Jonah’s anger by allowing a castor plant to sprout up to bring comfort to the prophet. Jonah is happy and is relieved at the comfort the plant brings him. Gods allows the plant to be attacked by the worm so that at dawn the scorching heat again brings discomfort. The cycle begins again. Jonah is angry at God, at the Ninevites and at life, perhaps fostering still the evil revenge he has stored within his heart. In a beautiful end to the story God reasons again with the prophet. God reminds the prophet that it is he alone who provides all things; He has also provided a way out for the people of Nineveh because of his compassionate concern for all peoples. It is a powerful story of the benevolent love and compassion of God.

Are we similar to Jonah in that we too seek revenge on people who have hurt us in the past or even at this present time? Do we need to seek pardon from God? What is the evil that can often lie hidden in our hearts?

God our Father, you are compassionate and loving in all your ways. I forgive those who have sinned against me. Let me no longer hold this sin against them. Help me to forgive and you have forgiven me. Amen