The Golden Rule

The anger of Jonah in today’s first reading is palpitating and smoking. He is enraged to the point of death. Why? He preached the Word of God to the people of Nineveh, and they turned to God, abandoning their evil ways. God then showed them his loving mercy and compassion. For these reasons, Jonah became furious.

This reaction is very strange because usually the preacher rejoices when his or her preaching brings people back to God. Heaven too, celebrates such hours. But Jonah had a different disposition. He desired a complete annihilation of the people of Nineveh or at least hoped that God would punish them. The reason for this uncommon disposition was his hatred for the people of Nineveh. Nineveh was part of Assyria, and Assyrians were enemies of Judah and Israel. Thus, he expected that God should deal mercilessly with the people he considered as enemies. However, God is God and not man. He is rich in mercy and cannot withhold his mercy from whosoever sincerely calls upon His name. But it was hard for Jonah to either understand or accept this nature of God.

Ironically, Jonah prayed from the belly of the fish for mercy and God granted his prayer (Jonah 2: 1-10). Why then should he be selfish and wish that others should not experience the same mercy he received? What would have been the case, if God had treated him the way he wanted God to treat the people of Nineveh? This is where most people err and accordingly pile up negative energies around their existential terrain. The reaction of Jonah is a sin against the golden rule.

Golden Rule

The golden rule could be stated in these three forms: (a) Treat others as you would like others to treat you (b) Do not treat others in ways that you would not like to be treated (c) What you wish upon others, you wish upon yourself. These are very fundamental principles of existence. It is an uncompromising natural law. It is a basic principle in the world’s major religions. Jesus highlighted this principle in the gospel of Matthew 7:12: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Mat. 7:12).

This rule guides what we describe as a “blessing” or a “curse” because whatever we do to others comes back to us unfailingly. Our actions and omissions are like seeds sowed in the garden. They will germinate, grow, and yield fruits for the sower. Every act of kindness will surely find its way back to the one who showed it and every act of wickedness likewise. Thus, Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Lk. 6:38).

Therefore, whatever you choose for yourself, give to another. If you choose to be happy, cause another to be happy. If you choose to be understood, show others understanding. Do you desire mercy, show others mercy. If you wish to be loved, love others as much as you would wish to be loved and cause them to have more love in their lives. If you detest cheating, then do not cheat others. For whatever you give to others will come back to you in “a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.” This principle is engrained in nature, and nothing will thwart its operations.

[Readings: Jon 4:1-11; Lk 11:1-4]

Fr. Venatius Oforka

Fr. Venatius Chukwudum Oforka is a moral theologian. He was born in Nigeria and ordained a priest for the Catholic Diocese of Orlu. He is presently working in St. Martins parish, Oberstadion in Rottenburg-Stuttgart Diocese, Germany. Among his publications are The Bleeding Continent: How Africa became Impoverished and why it Remains Poor and The Art of Spiritual Warfare: The Secrete Weapons Satan can’t Withstand.

1 Comment

  1. Kathy Schultz on October 6, 2021 at 7:52 am

    Such a rich reflection for all of us. Isn’t it beautiful how simple Our Lord speaks to us; that is, in words we can easily understand? Thank you, Father for today’s thoughts.

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