In the first chapter of the Book of Jonah,
the sailors on the ship bound for Tarshish had to, literally and physically, throw a human cargo overboard. It was shocking, to say the least, and the sailors thought the same. The prophet Jonah had paid for his fare before boarding so it would not be true to describe him as a stowaway or someone who had sneaked in. What would be true, however, is that the sailors would have prevented him from coming on board, at any cost, if he had only declared that he was running away from God.
The Dilemma of an Unwanted Baggage
The ship’s crew was now faced with a dilemma. Jonah was already inside the vessel. It did not matter, anymore, whether Jonah had forced himself in or done it by stealth. We know, however, that terrible things are about to happen to the ship and all its passengers and crew. Jonah had placed them all directly in harm’s way. What were they to do? It is either their lives or Jonah’s. Wracked by guilt, they made the supreme sacrifice of ditching Jonah and consigned him to the sea’s hungry waves.
Jonah and the Lessons for Us
Lessons can be gleaned from the Jonah episode with the sailors. In our lives, we sometimes carry unnecessary baggage that comes our way either serendipitously or because we willfully caused them to happen. These unwanted things wreak havoc in our lives. We sometimes do not appreciate the extent of the damage until we are already begging for mercy like the sailors. Some of the heavy loads that we carry and need to cast off are:
- Fear. We allow ourselves to fall prey to the fears that beset us like getting old, becoming ugly, going hungry, and dying, to name a few. Allow God, instead, to take the driver’s seat.
- Addictions. We are servants to the materialism of this world. We are addicted to its wealth and pleasures. As a result, we worship the wrong God.