Three weeks before the feast of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, Fr. Matthew Howell continues his reflections on the Nativity Katavasia. This time he focuses on the 6th ode which is based on the prayer of Jonah from inside the belly of the sea monster (Jonah 2:3-10). Fr. Matthew explains how the “sign of Jonah” (cf. Mt. 12:38-40) refers to both Christ’s resurrection and the preservation of Mary’s Virginity after giving birth to Christ. Fr. Matthew also discusses Jonah’s unfaithfulness; his pursuit of vanity (cf. Jonah 2:9); his small repentance, obedience, and half-hearted preaching; and how God can use us as conduits of grace if we can turn away from the pursuit of vanity and lies while turning towards God instead. Along the way, there are references to Veggietales and whining about “first world problems” like Americans.
Galatians 3:23-29; 4:1-5
Brethren, before faith came, we were confined under the law, kept under restraint until faith should be revealed. So that the law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian; for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no better than a slave, though he is the owner of all the estate; but he is under guardians and trustees until the date set by the father. So with us; when we were children, we were slaves to the elemental spirits of the universe. But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
At that time, Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years; she was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your infirmity.” And he laid his hands upon her, and immediately she was made straight, and she praised God. But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.” Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to water it? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?” As he said this, all his adversaries were put to shame; and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.