Sunday, 22 January 2012

BE the Sign of Jonah to Bring About Repentance and Faith

Repent!  This is the message of Jonah, St John the Baptist, of our Lord Jesus, and even what any human person with a conscience can know.  Cease doing evil and learn to do good.  It isn't anything fancy, profound, or eloquent, but when it comes from a man who spent three days in the belly of the whale or three days in the belly of the earth, then we'll sit up and listen.

Listen to my homily for the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time:

If you have trouble listening click here.
Look at the Mass Readings for today.

Nowadays it is theologically fashionable to question the historicity of the story of Jonah.  Yeah, it is pretty weird.  Quite odd to think about a man spending three days in a whale and then getting spit out.  But c'mon, isn't that why they listened to him?  To me, the fact that the Ninevites repented after hearing Jonah is the first reason why I think we shouldn't question if it really happened.  The next thing people quesion is if the Red Sea really split, if the miracle of the loaves really happened, and even if Jesus actually historically rose from the dead!?  Nonsense.  Hogwash fiddle faddle!  The second reason is because Jesus himself called the Cross and Resurrection, "The Sign of Jonah" (Mt 12:39-40; Mk 8:11-12; Lk 11:29).

Jesus is the sign of Jonah.  He is "The Resurrection and the Life" (Jn 11:25) who suffered for our sins and on the third day rose again.  For this reason, that Jesus Christ knows us inside and out, and loves us unconditionally, it is very difficult NOT to listen to him.  For it is only the love of God that can really give us the true hope for change.  It is only the Love of one who wept tears of blood and already repented in his own flesh for our sins, which gives us the strength not only listen but to obey the one who says, "Repent and believe in the Gospel" (from today's Gospel Mk 1:15).

Jesus gives us two chief ways of repenting and believing.  These are the two chief Sacraments of the daily Christian life, the Sacrament of Repentance and the Sacrament of Faith, Penance and the Holy Eucharist.  In the Sacrament of Penance, Jesus applies his most precious blood to our sins, cleansing our inmost heart of sin, so that "Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow" (Is 1:18) giving us a new innocence like that of a newborn baby.  In the Most Holy Eucharist Jesus gives us the primary reason for believing in him, that he loves us here and now and says to us in the person of the priest, "This is my body, which will be given up for you" (Lk 22:19).  For not only can we say, "for God so loved the world that he gave his only Son" (Jn 3:16), but also as Jesus said, "the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world" (Jn 6:51).  He gives himself to me.  Here.  Now.  Not just 2000 years ago in a land far away, but at every Catholic Mass throughout the entire world.

HE IS that supersubstantial bread that we eat, that we consume with faith, "for as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 11:26).  The Most Holy Eucharist is "the source and summit of the Christian life" (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1324) of faith, hope, and charity, of acquiring and exercising the virtues, of service to God and man, and of discipleship.  When we receive the Holy Eucharist with dispositions of a lively faith, real humility, and also with the authentic hope that it will change us, it will bring about the very repentance and faith that Jesus speaks about.  In receiving him we hear him say, we hear the living God say, "Repent and believe!"  This is the same God, that, when he speaks, things happen.  Just as he said, "Fiat Lux!  Let there be light!" (Genesis 1:3) and light itself was created.  When we hear God speak to us the words, he gives us also the strength to follow them.

Our Lady lived these words of Jesus the best.  She is the first and best disciple, who "pondered all these things in her heart" (Lk 2:52).  She is the Mother who helps us to hear these life giving and transformative words of Christ.  May her prayers open our hearts to the One who loves us and helps us repent and believe in his great love for us.

1 comment:

  1. An excellent post. I learned a lot from it. Thank you SOLT


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