The Sign of Jonah
Monday, October 16, 2023
by Fr. David M. Knight
View readings for Monday, 28th Week of Ordinary Time: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings
Lectionary no. 467 (Rom 1: 1-7; Ps 98: 1, 2-3, 3-4; Lk 11: 29-32)
The Responsorial Psalm gives us the source of confidence in our efforts to renew the world: “The Lord has made known his salvation” (Psalm 98).
In Romans 1: 1-7 Paul makes it clear that he is not just preaching some ideas of his own because he feels inclined to do so. His message is “the gospel [good news] of God,” and he has been called, “set apart” to proclaim it. And those to whom he is preaching are not just an ordinary audience. They are the “beloved of God” who have been “called to belong to Jesus Christ,” “called to holiness.” He is describing us.
Paul is not just preaching some new human insight into truth. His message was “promised long ago through the prophets,” and it concerns the person of Jesus Christ, Son of David and Son of God — as verified by his resurrection from the dead. This is an event: “The Lord has made known his salvation.” God is at work in the world.
The Responsorial Psalm is a chant of victory: “Sing to the Lord… he has done wondrous deeds. His right hand has won victory…. In the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice…. salvation by our God.”
We need to remember this when the Church seems to be inactive or losing ground. We are not just a human enterprise whose chances of success are judged by human standards. The ultimate victory of Christ is assured, already won. It is just a matter of when and where it will be realized in our time. And yes, that does depend a great deal on what we do.
Luke 11: 29-32 shows us where to look for signs that the Church is actually doing God’s work. Jesus tells the crowds, “This is an evil generation; it asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus doesn’t promise that miracles will be evident in the Church, even miracles of conversion. He doesn’t promise any of the ordinary signs of success: numbers, visible results, popularity in the polls. He promises the “sign of Jonah.” And what is that?
The “sign of Jonah” is Jesus himself, risen out of the grave as Jonah emerged from the belly of the fish after three days. And how is the risen Jesus visible? In the Church, his risen body on earth! What we need to look for is signs that the members of Christ’s body are living by his divine life: the witness of actions that could only be empowered by grace; signs that we have indeed been “called to belong to Jesus Christ,” “called to holiness.” It is up to each one of us to live in a way that reveals this. That is how today “The Lord makes known his salvation.”
Action: Be Christ’s steward. Reveal Christ’s life in you through actions that could only be inspired by your faith, your hope, your love.
Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry