While still more people gathered in the crowd, he said to them, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. At the judgment the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation and she will condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here. At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here”.
An evil generation, an evil generation that we are. Jesus presents us with another generation that Jonah thought was evil and to his surprise, he discovered that this generation did listen to his word and converted. Jesus also introduces us to a pagan woman who discovered the divine wisdom of men in Solomon. By introducing us to them, Jesus tells us that we have already inherited wisdom and we must know how to apply it. He reveals to us a merciful God and conversion is always possible. Let us discern well and choose the right path by applying wisdom.
Action of the day: Learn to see the simple signs that God gives you today.
“Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation”
Fr. Roger J. LANDRY
(Hyannis, Massachusetts, United States)
Today Jesus describes that the sign he will give to “evil people” is himself as the “sign of Jonah”: “Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation”. (Lk 11:30). Just as Jonah allowed himself tossed overboard the boat to still the raging tempest and save the sailors’ lives, so Jesus allowed himself to be tossed overboard to calm the storms of sin that threatens our lives. Just as Jonah spent three days in the belly of the whale before being spit out on dry land, so Jesus would spend three days in the belly of the earth before walking out of the empty tomb (cf. Mt 12:40).
The sign that Jesus would give to the “evil people” of every generation is the sign of his death and resurrection. His death, freely accepted, is the sign of God's incredible love for us: Jesus gave his life to save our own. His resurrection from the dead is the sign of his divine power. This is the most powerful and moving sign ever given.
But Jesus is the sign of Jonah in yet another sense. Jonah was an icon and agent of conversion. At his preaching, “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (Jon 3:4), the pagan Ninevites converted, as everyone from the king to children to animals covered themselves in sackcloth and ashes. During these forty days of Lent, we have someone “far greater than Jonah” (cf. Lk 11:32) preaching conversion to us —Jesus himself— and our conversion should be just as thorough.
St. John Chrysostom writes in the person of Christ: “For Jonah was a servant, but I am the Master; and he came forth from the great fish, but I rose from death. He proclaimed destruction, but I am come preaching the good tidings of the kingdom.”
A week ago, on Ash Wednesday, we covered ourselves in ashes and heard individually the words of Jesus' first homily, “Repent and believe in the Gospel” (cf. Mk 1:15). The question for us is: Have we responded yet with deep conversion like the Ninevites and embraced that Gospel?