Voice of HIS word versus vices in my heart – Wednesday,1st Week of Lent – Luke 11: 29-32

It’s not uncommon in the gospels, to find the Pharisees and the people demanding a sign from Jesus. Make no mistake they were not asking for a miracle but a sign. A sign points to a greater reality, a reality they were not ready to accept.  So let’s place reality in perspective. In Luke 11: 14, Jesus has healed a mute, yet some of his critics’ say that He  has cast out the demon through the prince of demons, Beelzebul.

Not once but twice in the same Chapter, they ask Jesus for a sign, to trap Him. So Jesus tells them that no sign will be given to them except that of Jonah. Now make no mistake, the sign of Jonah is most erroneously compared to the three days that Jonah spent in the belly of the fish vis-à-vis Jesus’ resurrection.

What is Jesus talking about then?  In answer to a woman who blessed the womb that bore Him and the breasts He suckled, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” For Jesus the living out of the ‘Word of God’ is paramount and it is this ‘living out’ that Jesus offers as ‘a sign’ in the narration of Jonah and the people of Nineveh.

Jonah was a reluctant prophet who did not want the people of Nineveh to repent. Jonah knew that God would have mercy on the enemies of his people. Nineveh was an ancient city located at the mouth of the Tigris River across from the modern day city of Mosul in Iraq. At one point of time it was the capital of Assyria. It was here that the Jews were forced to live in exile and understandably Jonah had no love for these ‘evil people’ or their land. It was they who had plundered and destroyed the temple in Jerusalem (325 BC) and forced the Israelites to spend half a century in exile.

Yet it is to them that Jonah is called to proclaim God’s call to repentance. An infuriated Jonah would rather die than communicate a message of repentance. In the story, he asks to be thrown into the sea and was swallowed by a big fish. The thought of preaching God’s word of repentance was unbearable; knowing that should they repent, God would pardon the people and the city. Jonah is most certain of His merciful God’s forgiveness to these hated enemies of his people, who in the story, eventually repent and are saved.

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