18TH JULY 2022
1st Reading: Micah 6:1-4, 6-8
Resp. Psalm: Ps 50:5-6,8-9,16bc-17, 21,23
Gospel: Matthew 12:38-42
THEME: THE SIGN OF JONAH
INTRO: In the Gospel, Jesus challenges His listeners to hear what the One Who is greater than Jonah and Solomon has to say to them and respond accordingly or be condemned by those who have listened. Now since there had been many false prophets and false messiahs in the past, and since the pride and prejudice of the scribes and the Pharisees did not permit them to see the Messiah in Jesus, a “carpenter-from-Nazareth-turned-wandering-preacher,” these Jewish religious leaders demanded that Jesus showed them some “Messianic” signs and miracles from their list. They would not believe that Jesus’ numerous miraculous healings were the Messianic signs foretold by their prophets.
In effect, today's Gospel portrays an encounter between the religious leaders and Jesus. They wanted a sign as a proof that Jesus is truly the Messiah. Jesus tells them that the only sign they will be given will be His own rising three days after His death. He implies that those who are open to the message of God will not need such a sign for they will have heard Jesus’ message and responded accordingly. Calling them an apostate generation who refused to believe in their own prophets and who denied the hand of God in the miracles Jesus had worked, Jesus warned them that they would be condemned on the Day of Judgment by the people of Nineveh (in modern Iraq) and by the Queen of Sheba from the South. The pagan Ninevites had heard the voice of the Lord God in the prophet Jonah, had repented and had been spared. The Queen of Sheba had recognized God’s wisdom in King Solomon and had traveled 1400 miles from the south (Yemen or Ethiopia) to Israel and spent six months with him (according to tradition) to receive more of it from the God of Solomon. Nevertheless, Jesus gave the scribes and Pharisees “the sign of Jonah,” who had spent three days and three nights in the belly of the giant fish, the undeniable Messianic sign of Jesus’ own Resurrection from the tomb on the third day after dying and being entombed.
AS EYE OPENERS IN THE LORD: Let us recognize the God-given signs in our lives. Let us examine our conscience and see if we are able to see God’s presence in ourselves and in others, His hand behind the small and big events of our lives, and His provident care in our lives and His wisdom in the Holy Scriptures. Let us open our ears to hear God’s message given to us through others and through nature. We should be able read God’s message in our lives and adjust our lives accordingly.
We are invited to follow Jesus wherever He leads us. We should serve Him by being of service to His disciples. We have been given the sign of the saving power of God as we reflect on the death and the rising of Jesus. Thus we should respond by doing right, loving goodness, and walking humbly with our God. Let us try our best to open our hearts to God and be receptive to His Spirit through our active participation in the liturgy, instead of looking for signs in weeping Madonnas, bleeding crucifixes, and visionaries. Our response to the Lord should be to live a life which reflects God’s goodness and to walk gratefully and humbly with God and in the service of others. God bless your day!