28, ఫిబ్రవరి 2023, మంగళవారం

Wednesday of the First Week in Lent

 

Wednesday of the First Week in Lent


Jonah 3:1-10

Luke 11:29-32

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, there are several signs and wonders in the Old Testament to manifest that God is present amidst them. In case of the call of Moses, to show that he is sent by God he performed some signs, for exam in Exodus 4: 7, then the LORD said, “ Put your hand inside your cloak” so Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was leprous, like snow. “ Now put it back into your cloak,”he said. So Moses put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored, like the rest of his flesh. And in the case of Gideon- the sign of Fleece (Judges 6:36-40). It invoked certain faith in God.

On the other hand, there are times the signs have been given, it did not lead to belief. In the desert journey people of Israel received a lot of signs but were unbelieving. Pharoah saw the signs but was stubborn to believe.  In the Gospel too, people were astonished and awe struck at the miraculous deed of Christ, but all of them did not move to faith. (Luke 5:26; Mark 2:12) they were moved to glorify but not had a change of heart.

Therefore , all these signs and wonders alone do not instil faith but in all these there is a person who does them at the command of God. That particular person’s word and action is an essential yardstick for opening up other’s minds to the Truth of God and to Faith.

The context: During Jesus' time as the Gospel presents to us, people were amazed at his extraordinary works and words, so they started following. Some among them are for to see miracles and some others are seeking other signs to believe in him that He is the Son of Man, the Messiah. 

But 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.

Why do we seek signs? Some reason could be in general

To confirm that it is from God

To show excuses their unbelief (No intention to believe) Matthew 16:1; Luke 11:16).

To satisfy their curiosity but no real desire to know

To attract to themselves not to the true source (frauds)

 

What is the sign of Jonah that Jesus speaks about?

The Sign of Jonah

There are two aspects to the sign of Jonah.

      In the belly of fish and in the heart of the earth: Jonah 1:17 But the LORD provided a large fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. This refers to Jesus in relation to his death, that he would be in the heart of the earth for three days and for three nights.

      Preaching : Jonah 2:10  The LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited out Jonah on the dry land. Once he was in Nineveh, he went about preaching the word of God, the wrath of God and invited them for conversion of heart and lives. So also after the death and resurrection of Christ, the message of conversion will be proclaimed throughout.

1st reading - Prophet spoke the Truth, People Listened, Believed and they were saved.

Jonah thought people would not listen, the Ninevites are  the Assyrians;  they were pagans, cruel and immoral in their nature, so they were in enmity with God and Israel. Though the Prophet was hesitant to go for the fear of his life and cruelty, he was led to go.  To his surprise, when people heard his message there was immediate response, they believed in his message. They recognised the truth, believed in God, and repented. From the most downtrodden to the most powerful, they took Jonah’s words to heart. They repented and turned from their evil ways. Thus they were spared.

Jesus also mentions about the wisdom of Solomon, the Queen of Sheba came from afar to listen to Solomon, to appreciate the gift of wisdom. She recognised this as the gift of God and came to witness it personally and enlivened by it. His wisdom was a sign, pointing towards a fraction of God’s wisdom and Truth.

Jesus said, there is greater than jonah, solomon and all the prophets. Nothing could win him over even death.

Jesus' message was to invite people to repent and believe, the kingdom is at hand. He inhibited people to turn away from their sinful ways and return to communion with God by changing the course of their lives.

People marvelled at his preaching, astonished at his healings but many continued to ask for signs. They failed to see a great sign, failed to see who was in front of them.

 

The Present day Danger:

People are now easily targeted, misled by so called man of god. The deceptions in God’s name to earn more followers not to Jesus but to himself. So the more the number of followers the more the man of God he is.  So they are only performing some acts to attract more people, designing and creating some exaggerated works to impress and increase followers. But this is at the cost of omitting Truth, Spiritual quality but adhering to exaggerations and emotionalism(pleasing words and false miracles). Even today People flock to places if something sensational happens without first verifying it. This is dangerous to faith. People want signs and marvellous deeds but fail to see who is in front of them because:

We have enough signs today

    The Eucharist (failed to spend time)

    The Word of God (failed to read and learn)

    Which do not need any further proof to instil faith. It’s like pouring water into the sea and holding a candle to the sun.  The lord has already given enough signs through his life and death and resurrection.

    sacrament and community of faithful. (failed to understand the role)

 

Lent is time to reflect and understand the many ways he is present to us now. We don't need more signs and wonders to believe.

Let us listen to Word of God, the eternal Truth and believe

Let us recognize Christ in the Eucharist who is always before us.

 

“So faith comes from what is heard, and

what is heard comes through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17

Let our faith be relied on Word, Eucharist = Christ, the eternal Truth

Let our faith not be relied on sensory experiences, sensations, emotional satiety

, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed;

blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’” John 20:29

 

 FR.JAYARAJU MANTHENA OCD

 

 

 

 

 

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