February 21, 2018
by Mark Latta
Creighton University's School of Dentistry
click here for photo and information about the writer

Wednesday of the First Week in Lent
Lectionary: 226

Jonah 3:1-10
Pslams 51:3-4, 12-13, 18-19
Luke 11:29-32

Praying Lent
Lent Prayer for Today

The First Week of Lent - 26 min. - Text Transcript

Beginning My Lenten Patterns
The Invitation of Lent
Choosing Lent, Acting Lent.

In today’s Gospel Jesus addresses the desire for signs. We all seem to ask for signs from time to time. In the cacophony of our daily lives they seem to give us greater certainty in what we believe and allay any insecurities we may have. ¬†Apparitions, miracles and other sensational spiritual events seem to be important not only for the contemporaries of Jesus but also for us today. We must understand however that Jesus insists that the real sign is his own person: in him God has become a human being, and who sees him sees the Father. Looking for other signs will not get us anywhere. Looking for God in all things, listening to the movements of the spirit within and above all focusing on our risen Lord should be our focus.

This of course is not to say that some of us do encounter true signs of God’s work in the world. The Ninevites were moved to repentance by the prophetic sign of Jonah as they recognized as the true word of God. Jonah’s story describes how the disobedient prophet was swallowed up by a giant fish and after three days emerges on the shore. He repents, his life is turned around and he responds by enthusiastically preaching the word of God. Signs of all kinds can be emotional links to our faith, but “signs” should not be the foundation of our faith. Our rock of faith is Jesus.

Jesus uses the popular story of Jonah to suggest his own resurrection. Jonah is swallowed up by the big fish, but after three days he emerges on dry land. In a similar way, Jesus will die and be raised to life again. Jesus says that the only sign to be given is that of death and resurrection, for “something greater than Jonah is here.” It is suggested here that this will be the greatest sign of all that God is among us. Jesus does wonder if the hearts of the stubborn yield even at that point.

We must realize that if we are awaiting signs we are missing the point. Something spectacular will draw a crowd. However, Jonah converted Nineveh by his holiness not with miracles and signs. God’s hand, while manifesting itself at times in extraordinary signs, is more evident in the steady manifestations of saintliness in the movement of the Holy Spirit.

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