6. january 2020
The description of the icon
Jonah is portrayed in life-size at an age when he has already understood that the Lord is the ruler of his life. The loving face and the gracious gesture of blessing indicate the wisdom of life supported by the experience of living with God. The wide-open and calm eyes seem to invite something previously unsuspected, a relationship with the Lord of Hosts, who is compassionate. Wisdom is also symbolized by a thick white chin and a high forehead. He has red under-garment, which in case of the prophets means the fire of the Spirit of God. He has a brown coat, a symbol of earth, poverty and transience. The dramatic folds on his clothes express spiritual experiences with the Lord. The Prophet Jonah is the successor of the prophet Elisha, who was a disciple of the prophet Elijah. By tradition, Jonah's mother was a widow from the pagan city of Sarepta, to whom the prophet Elijah came during God's famine. The text on the scroll means: "Jonah speaks the word of God to the people of Nineveh."
The spiritual heritage
Jonah acts as an authentic prophet whom God sends east to Nineveh to the hated oppressors of the chosen people. He knows God's goodness and foresees that if the people of Nineveh repent, they will escape God's punishment. The idea that the enemies of his nation could become the object of God's mercy, urges him to do indiscriminate action, to escape to the West. As a juxtaposition to the prophet´s narrow-minded faith we observe the attitude of pagan sailors during a terrible storm at sea, who are intimidated even merely by the idea that someone has resisted God's command. They are reluctant to throw the prophet into the sea. Jonah does his mission only after the whale casts him ashore. The King of Nineveh and all the inhabitants of the city immediately and unconditionally believe the prophet's word, repent and turn. Jonah's mission, despite his unwillingness, has been extremely successful in the pagan city, while the proclamation of God's Word to the chosen people by the great prophets remained without answer! God received the repentance and conversion of the Nineveh and forgave them (Jonah 3: 10). But Jonah considered this very bad, and he was angry (Jonah 4: 1). He expected that he would be an eyewitness to the destruction of the city. Then God showed his patience and goodness to the stubborn prophet. He illustrated the saving lesson of his mercy on a practical example. He let the bush grow to give Jonah a shadow to hide from the sun, but let it dry up immediately. God took advantage of Jonah's regret for the bush and presented it to Jonah as an example of God's mercy and goodness (Jonah 4: 6-11). He embraces all his creatures without distinction.