Matthew 12: 38-42
Mi 6:1-4, 6-8 / Ps 50:5-6,8-9,16-17,21,23
An evil and unfaithful generation seeks for a sign.
Jonah’s obedience to God’s command
Prevented Nineveh’s destruction.
We need no sign to understand
God’s Word will save our generation.
Some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But He answered them, “An evil and unfaithful generation seeks for a sign; but no sign shall be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. Just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it; because they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and there is something greater than Jonah here. At the judgment, the queen of the South will arise with this generation and condemn it; because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here.” (Matthew 12:38-42)
The scribes and Pharisees asked for a sign, when in fact our Lord had already performed a number of miraculous signs that clearly pointed to the fact that Jesus was the Messiah that Isaiah and the other prophets had written about. We can only wonder why these religious leaders of the Jews refused to open their eyes to this obvious revelation. It could only be to fulfill the prophecies in the Old Testament, where God said: “Go and tell this people: ‘Listen carefully, but you shall not understand! Look intently, but you shall know nothing!’ Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Else their eyes will see, their ears hear, their hearts understand, and they will turn and be healed” (Isa 6:9-10); “O foolish people, without understanding, who have eyes and see not, and who have ears and hear not… Behold, the word of the Lord is a reproach to them; they have no delight in it” (Jer 5:21;6:10); “Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people … for I have made you a sign to the Israelites.” (Ezek.12:2,6)
Being God, Jesus knew that the intransigence of the scribes and Pharisees was the spiritual blindness that the prophets of old had prophesied, as they neither recognized Him as the Messiah nor understood His message. But it was for the sake of His disciples– and I believe more so for our sake today—that He cited the prophet Jonah as a fitting sign or symbol for the important messages that He wanted to impart. First of all, Jonah symbolized Jesus as the bearer of the Good News of God’s mercy for the penitent. Like our Lord, Jonah remained “entombed” in the belly of a sea creature for three days. However, the sign of Jonah was in many other ways a glaring contradiction to the mission of Jesus. Initially, he disobeyed the command of God, and so his fate was left to the forces of nature. Even when he finally obeyed, and proclaimed God’s message of repentance to the Ninevites, he did it reluctantly, and was angry when these traditional enemies of the Jews repented and were converted. Jesus, on the other hand, obeyed His commission of proclaiming the Gospel of repentance to the letter willingly, even though He knew the terrible price He would pay for doing so. In fact, quite the opposite of Jonah, Jesus did it all for love. But the greater contrast that the sign of Jonah showed was that even though Jonah never performed any signs or miracles, the pagan country of Nineveh was converted, from the king to the lowest subject, while in the case of the Jews, who were the Chosen People of God, they refused to believe Jesus, even though He had already performed so many wondrous signs in their midst. Thus, they only deserved the curses that the book of Deuteronomy predicted (Dt.28:15-68).
Our generation is blessed with the Old and the New Testaments of the Bible that serve to guide us when we are obedient, as well as warn us about becoming spiritually blind when we disobey the commandments of God. St. Paul warned us about the work of Satan: “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor.4:4) “Unbelievers” are those who do not give any importance to the Word of God. Blinded by the pleasures and privileges of this world, they cannot set their sights on the eternal, and they may end up as lost souls groping in the dark. Unless we, who enjoy the light of Christ can help them break out of the spiritual blindness that is afflicting so many nominal Christians today. Let us encourage them to study the Bible carefully and meditatively and pray to God to open their minds and hearts to see what they are reading. Let us pay forward what we have received.
Lord God, forgive us whenever we ask for signs to strengthen our faith or to prove the love that You have for us. We are the ones who have so much to prove in order to be worthy of Your love! May we lead others to Your Good News of salvation. Amen.
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