Today’s first reading from Jonah conjures up images which evoke fear and anxiety.  Imagine the utter terror that Jonah must have felt as he was heaved into the sea, and then swallowed by the great animal!   Nevertheless, he knew that he had to let go of his fear and allow himself to be used by God.

The deep truth of the story is that by acknowledging his worry and embracing his despair Jonah was transformed.  We tend to dismiss our fear and we allow it to influence our decisions in unhealthy ways.  God invites us, like Jonah, to actually enter into our fear and anxiety as a means to embracing a deeper faith.  We can actually “use” our uneasiness as an opportunity to connect more deeply with a God who cares for us.  And almost in spite of ourselves we connect with other people in the same way.

—Matt Kemper is the Director of Community Service at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati.