Jonah tries to run away from God and the task he was given

Illustration by Linda Jeanne Rivers


One day, God called a man named Jonah to be his prophet.

“Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and preach against it; for their wickedness has come before me,” God said.

Instead of listening to God, Jonah prepared to run away from God and what he was being called to do.

Jonah traveled to Joppa and found a ship that was heading to Tarshish. He paid a fare and climbed aboard.

God caused a great wind to come upon the sea, creating a storm so severe that the ship was in danger of breaking apart.

The sailors were afraid, and they cried out to the various pagan gods they worshipped.

Jonah, meanwhile, was fast asleep in the hold of the ship.

“What are you doing asleep? Rise up, call upon your God! Perhaps God will be mindful of us so that we may not perish,” the ship’s captain said when he saw Jonah.

The sailors even threw cargo overboard to help save themselves, but it was not working.

“Come, let us cast lots to find out on whose account we have met with this misfortune,” they decided.

The lot fell on Jonah.

“Tell us,” the sailors demanded, “what is your business? Where do you come from? What is your country, and to what people do you belong?”

Jonah explained that he was a Hebrew who was fleeing from God.

“How could you do such a thing!” the sailors exclaimed. “What shall we do with you, that the sea may quiet down for us?”

“Pick me up and throw me into the sea, that it may quiet down for you; since I know it is because of me that this violent storm has come upon you,” Jonah replied.

“We beseech you, O Lord, let us not perish for taking this man’s life; do not charge us with shedding innocent blood, for you, Lord, have done as you saw fit,” the sailors prayed.

Then they took Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea’s raging stopped.

But Jonah didn’t die.

Instead, God sent a large fish to swallow Jonah, who remained in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Jonah prayed to God from the fish’s belly, and then God commanded the fish to spew Jonah upon the shore.


Jonah 1 & 2


  1. What did God ask Jonah to do?
  2. What happened when Jonah ran away from God?

ESSAY: Why is it important to obey God?


What happened after the fish spewed Jonah upon the shore?

In Jonah 3, we read that, once again, God called Jonah to be his prophet.

“Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and announce to it the message that I will tell you,” God said.

Jonah traveled to Nineveh. The city was so big that it took him three days to walk through it.

As he walked, Jonah announced God’s message.

“Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed,” he said.

The people of Nineveh declared a fast and put on sackcloth to show repentance. Even the king wore sackcloth and also sat in ashes to show his repentance.

“By decree of the king and his nobles, no man or beast, no cattle or sheep, shall taste anything; they shall not eat, nor shall they drink water,” the king declared. “Man and beast alike must be covered with sackcloth and call loudly to God; they all must turn from their evil way and from the violence of their hands. Who knows? God may again repent and turn from his blazing wrath, so that we will not perish.”

When God saw Nineveh’s repentance, he did not destroy the city.


St. Paul of the Cross

St. Paul of the Cross was born Paolo Francesco Danei in Italy in 1694. Even as a teen, he led a monk-like life of prayer and penance, and as an adult, he refused to marry.

In 1720, he had a vision of Our Lady. In the vision, she wore a black habit with a white cross that bore Jesus’ name, and she told him to start an order to preach Christ’s passion.

Paul founded the Discalced Clerks of the Most Holy Cross and Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which he led for the rest of his life. Passionists were soon doing missions, retreats and spiritual direction throughout Italy.

Paul died in 1775, and we remember him on Oct. 20.


Using the hints from Jonah 4, put a T next to the sentences that are true and an F next to the ones that are false.

  1. ___ Jonah was happy that God spared Nineveh. (verse 1)
  2. ___ God provided Jonah with a gourd plant for shade. (verse 6)
  3. ___ God wanted to know whether Jonah had a right to be angry when the gourd plant died. (verses 8-9)
  4. ___ God explained to Jonah why he was concerned with the people of Nineveh. (verses 10-11)

Answers: 1. F; 2. T; 3. T; 4. T

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