“I will pick that up at the store…”
“I will call you back tomorrow…”
“I will seek your will, O God…”
Today’s gospel shows Jesus perturbed with “this evil generation that seeks a sign.” No sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah, that is, the repentance of the Ninevites at the preaching of the prophet. (The sign of Jonah in Matthew’s gospel refers to the prophet’s sojourn in the belly of the great fish for three days.)
Are we that evil generation today?
The preaching of Jonah was effective in the lives of the enemies of Israel. Today, this story might refer to Jonah going to Tehran and all the Iranians repenting. That would certainly show up all Christians and Jews, wouldn’t it!
It seems to me that Jesus puts this great story to use to point out the slowness of his contemporaries to repent. Why are we so slow to repent? Let me approach this question from a bit of an oblique side.
I’ve come to appreciate the difference between intention and action. I intend to do many things like call, visit, email, speak to, or clean my room. I don’t always complete that intention through putting it into action. I delay. I procrastinate. I postpone.
More so, I notice that I sometimes count my intention for action: “I intended to do that, therefore I did it.” “I said I would speak to so-and-so about the matter, therefore I have done it…” (even if I haven’t!) This may be a guy thing. Maybe not, though. But, I observe a lot of guys who also act in this way.
So, what’s the deal? Seems to me that clarity and honesty are the big deals. If I continually fool myself into firmly believing that I have indeed repented then it’s mainly all those people (who in some way oppose me) who have to repent (Certainly not I, since I’ve already done that!)
I think that the beauty of St. Theresa of Avila is that she was willing to let God enter into her mansion contemplatively, to walk her through all the rooms in it, and to literally renovate where she lived (“make it new again!”). It was her willingness to look again at her life through the eyes of God and with greater clarity that led her along the path of repentance.
How will we welcome God’s welcoming today in this generation?