Hardness of Heart

Luke 11: 29-32
Jon 3:1-10/ Ps 51:3-4,12-13,18-19

This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah.
(Luke 11:29)

We need not find wonders or signs
To change our hearts hardened by pride;
The Word of God alone defines
The True Path that we must abide.

While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus 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 up 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 behold, something greater than Solomon is here. 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. (Luke 11: 29-32)

Reflection

In his first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul said, “Jews demand signs, and Greeks look for wisdom” (1Cor.1:22). But “no sign will be given” because no amount of miracles that our Lord performed would change the hardness of their hearts. Earlier, Jesus had exorcised an evil spirit. But instead of seeing this as God’s handiwork, the Jews attributed His power to Beelzebul, the prince of demons. They refused to believe what was happening right before their very eyes. That is why Jesus condemned the Jews as “an evil generation.”

Jesus saw the hypocrisy in the hearts of His detractors that had made them blind and unyielding. They weren’t asking for a sign because they needed proof in order to believe; it was merely their ploy to put him to the test, and find something which they could use to condemn Him. No sign from heaven could ever turn their hearts to repentance and faith.

Everyone familiar with the story of Jonah knows that he stayed in the belly of a huge fish for three days before coming out to proclaim God’s wrath of impending doom to the Ninevites unless they repented. Jesus predicted that like Jonah He would also remain in the “belly” of a rocky tomb for three days before arising to proclaim His Good News of salvation. But this was where the similarity ended. The stark contrast lay in the different responses of the “Chosen People” vis-a-vis the Ninevites, a people of Assyria who were unbelieving pagans. If God’s reluctant prophet could turn the hearts of these Gentiles to repentance without even performing a single sign from heaven, why couldn’t the miracles performed by Jesus convince His own people? The Queen of Sheba, another Gentile 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 could be the reason why the Jews, who had witnessed the wonders performed by Jesus in their midst, still met Him with resistance instead of belief and repentance? It was simply because of their hardness of heart.

Hardness of heart is what prevents us from seeing/accepting the truth. It is usually bias, or prejudice against a person whom one considers below his station (like Jesus, a mere son of a carpenter to the learned Pharisees and scribes) that blurs one’s perception of the truth. Proverbs 28:14 says: “Happy the man who is always on his guard; but he who hardens his heart will fall into evil.”

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 for our salvation. Amen.

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