FEB. 24. LENT. WK. 1. WED. LK. 11. 29-32.
Updated: Aug 24
The crowds got even bigger, and Jesus addressed them:
‘This is a wicked generation; it is asking for a sign. The only sign it will be given is the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. On Judgement day the Queen of the South will rise up with the men of this generation and 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. On Judgement day the men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation and condemn it, because when Jonah preached they repented; and there is something greater than Jonah here.’
The central theme of today’s reading is the need for God’s People to listen, with Faith and Trust, to those he sends to them as Prophets, Teachers and Guides; - something we have shown ourselves to be not particularly good at.
Jonah was a Prophet who was sent to the Ninevites, and he called on the people to repent and to change their ways, or God’s punishment would come down upon them. In this case they listened to their teacher, followed his advice, and amended their way of life.
As a result, Christ held up the lessons of Jonah, and the people of Nineveh, as examples of how the people of his time needed to behave, having advised them; - “This is a wicked generation,” because they had asked for a sign.
What Christ is pointing out is they had already had a sign, in Jonas and the Ninevites, and no other sign would be provided. They needed to heed the sign that had already been given, and duly reported.
Jesus then changes direction, and rather than looking back to previous generations, and lessons, he looked forward, pointing out he too was a teacher and prophet the people needed to listen to; - comparing himself, quite rightly, to the Wisdom of Solomon.
In order to highlight the importance of his teachings, and the teachings of the Prophets, Christ then refers to the coming “Judgement Day” when this “evil generation” would be judged on how well they had heeded the divine message.
And this “message” is as valid today as it was when Christ first delivered it, which is why he has given us the Wisdom of the Gospel message; - leaving the decision to us as to whether we will “heed its message.”
Sadly, there is little doubt today’s modern world well deserves being referred to a “a wicked generation”, and precisely because it has not listened to the teachings, and example, of Christ, the Son of God; - nor to the numerous “signs” he has left us.
Christ’s message was very clear, and the “signs” he left us provide more than enough “evidence” to validate his teachings, and yet we still have great difficulty abiding by the Wisdom of the Gospels?
“For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation…. and there is something greater than Jonah here!” The teachings of Christ are simple and clear, so the question remains; - Why do we have such difficulty practicing them?
Gospel Acclamation Joel2:12-13
Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!
With all your heart turn to me,
for I am tender and compassionate.
Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!
First reading Jonah 3:1-10 · The Ninevites repent, and God spares them
The word of the Lord was addressed to Jonah: ‘Up!’ he said ‘Go to Nineveh, the great city, and preach to them as I told you to.’ Jonah set out and went to Nineveh in obedience to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was a city great beyond compare: it took three days to cross it. Jonah went on into the city, making a day’s journey. He preached in these words, ‘Only forty days more and Nineveh is going to be destroyed.’ And the people of Nineveh believed in God; they proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least. The news reached the king of Nineveh, who rose from his throne, took off his robe, put on sackcloth and sat down in ashes. A proclamation was then promulgated throughout Nineveh, by decree of the king and his ministers, as follows: ‘Men and beasts, herds and flocks, are to taste nothing; they must not eat, they must not drink water. All are to put on sackcloth and call on God with all their might; and let everyone renounce his evil behaviour and the wicked things he has done. Who knows if God will not change his mind and relent, if he will not renounce his burning wrath, so that we do not perish?’ God saw their efforts to renounce their evil behaviour, and God relented: he did not inflict on them the disaster which he had threatened.