The Gospel According to Luke 11:29-32
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 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 there is something greater than Solomon here. At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here.”
Reflection: The story of Jonah and his 3-day sojourn in the whales belly is a very well know story to many of us, even as children. But that’s not what St. Luke is emphasizing here in this passage. Luke’s concern is with Jonah’s preaching of God’s word as the sign, for that accords with his insistence on hearing and keeping God’s word proclaimed by Jesus. In that time most were very well aware of Jonah’s mass conversion of the Ninevites, who were Israel’s ancient enemy, preaching repentance for three days. All the people, from the king to his lowliest subjects, humbled themselves by wearing sackcloth and ashes. Which is our connection to this reading during Lent and another powerful example of the influence of God’s prophets.
God did not carry out the punishment planned for them. At this, Jonah complained, as he was angry because the Lord spared them. In this passage, Jesus was reminding the crowd that God does not perform according to the will of men. God acts as God wills.
We are to work to conform our will to his, not the other way around. When we feel tempted to complain because God does not act as we want, a fitting response is to humble ourselves and pray today’s responsorial psalm: “A heart contrite and humble, O God, you will not spurn.”
The other sign in this verse is St. Luke’s insistent meaning of Jesus’ wisdom as being greater than that of King Solomon. In Jesus, God’s spokesperson, greater power is present.
The Jewish people were chosen by God, given his law, and sent a Son as an emissary, but they refused to see what the Ninevites and the queen of the south, outsiders to God’s covenant, quickly acknowledged.
God desires a relationship with us. Do we settle for something less than the call to be his disciple? Lent is the time for us to reflect and discern whether we are wise enough to prefer the Giver over his gifts.
Action of the Day: This week walk and pray “The Stations of the Cross” and reflect on the sacrifices Jesus gave openly to us.
(Some of the excerpts used here are from “The Gospel according to Luke by Robert J. Karris, O.F.M.).