Hardness of Heart

Luke 11: 29-32
Gal 4:22-27,31-5:1 / Ps 113

. . . no sign will be given to them except the sign of Jonah.
(Luke 11:29)

No other sign can immortalize
Divine love as the cross on the wall.
Reminds us of the great sacrifice
That Jesus endured to save us all.

As the crowds gathered around Him, Jesus taught them that those who ask for a sign are evil people. “No sign will be given to them except the sign of Jonah. As Jonah became a sign for the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be a sign for this generation. On Judgment Day the Queen of the South will rise to accuse the people of these times, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here. The people of Nineveh will also rise up on Judgment Day to accuse the people of this generation, for Jonah’s preaching made them turn from their sins, and there is something greater than Jonah here.” (Lk.11: 29-32)

Reflection

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 miracle, why couldn’t the wonders 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 were privileged to hear the wisdom of Jesus, still responded 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 envy against a person whom one considers below his station (like Jesus, a mere son of a carpenter, preaching to the learned Pharisees and scribes). Prejudice 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.”

We have learned that those who are “renewed”, or who turn from their worldly ways because of some ‘miraculous sign’ are usually the ones not steadfast in their faith. Their “rootless” kind of faith needs a regular dose of the supernatural or the fanciful (like the “dancing sun” or shower of rose petals from nowhere) to keep it alive. But a strong faith is not dependent on supernatural signs. It is sustained by acts of piety, perseverance and prayer, especially in times of crisis or the so-called “dryness of spirit”. In fact it is when God doesn’t seem to answer our prayers that our faith in Him is fortified, even without our knowledge. Psalm 51:19 says, “Lord, my sacrifice is a broken spirit; a contrite heart You will not despise.” The great pains and death of Jesus on the cross serve as our inspiration in times of our own trials.

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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