Saint Callistus I, Pope and Martyr
Romans 1:1-7; Psalm 98:1-4;Luke 11:29-32
This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah. (Luke 11:29)
Jesus had performed many miracles, but some of the religious leaders demanded yet another extraordinary sign to validate his ministry. Grieved by such hardness of heart, Jesus rebuked them and told them that he would give them nothing “except the sign of Jonah” (Luke 11:29).
What is this “sign of Jonah,” and how did Jesus fulfill it?
Jonah had proclaimed to the Ninevites, an ungodly people who routinely terrorized the neighboring nations, that their sins had placed them under God’s judgment (Jonah 3:4). Hearing Jonah’s message, the Ninevites repented immediately, and God forgave them and turned away his wrath. Jonah’s amazement at this is understandable. Why should the Lord have been so merciful toward a group of pagans who had never before recognized his authority?
But just as God forgave the Ninevites, so has he forgiven each one of us, in Christ. We are no different from the Ninevites, both in the condemnation we deserved and in the pardon we have received. How deep is the love of God! How wide is his mercy! He offered up his own Son just to set us free from sin.
Even before Jonah could finish preaching, the Ninevites repented—peasant and king alike. They took his words seriously, and even more important, they took God seriously. It was as if the whole city had experienced a religious revival!
Like Nineveh, our cities and towns need revival as well. People need to turn away from sin and turn to the Lord. This is a major thrust of the New Evangelization, the call to believe that our Father has the power to work miracles. We need to believe that he really can bring people to repentance and a living faith in him. And it’s not only that he can do this but that he deeply wants to do it.
May this sign of Jonah inspire us to pray for conversions—especially for our loved ones. May we pray that the New Evangelization will be an instrument of revival in our lives and in the people around us.
“Father, your mercy is over-whelming; your kindness is greater than I can grasp. Empower me to love you in return and to become an ambassador of your word and your mercy.” ~wau