Repentance and Faith

Luke 11: 29-32
Rom 1:1-7 / Ps 98:1-4

. . .they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, there is something greater than Jonah here.
(Luke 11:32)

Time is so fleeting, life is so short,
Without a warning, Death’s at the door.
Power has no meaning, wealth no worth,
Repent and believe, and sin no more.

When the crowds were increasing, Jesus began to speak, ‘This generation is an evil generation; it asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be to this generation. The queen of the South will rise at the judgement with the people of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here! The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgement day with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, there is something greater than Jonah here.

Reflection

Earlier in this chapter of Luke, Jesus had just exorcised an evil spirit. Instead of seeing this as God’s handiwork, some of the Jews attributed His power to Beelzebul, the prince of demons. They refused to believe what was happening right before their very eyes. For their ‘blindness’ Jesus called them “a wicked generation.” Jesus knew that their asking for a sign was merely their ploy to put him to the test. Their deviousness had made them rotten to the core.

The Jews prided themselves as being the Chosen People, the children of the One True God. They could not see that their pride was the very thing that had alienated them from from Him. As Jesus warned the Jews, they, “the children of the kingdom, will be driven out into the outer darkness” (Mt.8:12), while the sinners and gentiles “will recline with Abraham and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven” (11).

“All who received him, those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (Jn.1:12).

Jesus compared the Jews to the Ninevites, a people of Assyria who were pagans hated by the Jews. If Jonah, God’s reluctant prophet who hated the Ninevites, could turn them to repentance even without a sign from heaven, why couldn’t the miracles performed by Jesus convince His own people? The Queen of Sheba, an unbeliever who visited King Solomon, acknowledged his wisdom as coming from the One True God (1 Kings 10) and believed just as the residents of Nineveh repented. So what excuse could the Jews have who had witnessed the wonders performed by Jesus in their midst, and yet met Him with resistance instead of repentance?

What do you think Jesus would say about our present generation? What would He say about the way our political and business leaders put their faith in their power and wealth? What sign could possibly convince our politicians and bureaucrats with hidden wealth to turn to repentance and finally believe in the Word of God, that justice awaits them in the not-so-distant future? Perhaps not even a sign from heaven can save this blind and “evil generation”.

Lord Jesus, you have taught us not to look for signs to prove Your love. It is enough that we see Your cross to make us believe and repent of our sins. We are the ones who still have so much to prove to be worthy of Your great sacrifice. Amen.

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