From Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus who has been called to be an apostle, and specially chosen to preach the Good News that God promised long ago through his prophets in the scriptures.
This news is about the Son of God who, according to the human nature he took was a descendant of David: it is about Jesus Christ our Lord who, in the order of the spirit, the spirit of holiness that was in him, was proclaimed Son of God in all his power through his resurrection from the dead. Through him we received grace and our apostolic mission to preach the obedience of faith to all pagan nations in honour of his name. You are one of these nations, and by his call belong to Jesus Christ. To you all, then, who are God’s beloved in Rome, called to be saints, may God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ send grace and peace.
The crowds got even bigger and Jesus addressed them, ‘This is a wicked generation; it is asking for a sign The only sign it will be given is the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. On Judgement day the Queen of the South will rise up with the men of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and there is something greater than Solomon here. On Judgement day the men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation and condemn it, because when Jonah preached they repented; and there is something greater than Jonah here.’
The Son of Man will be a sign for this generation
I read my horoscope in the Sunday papers. I try not to and often tell myself I’m Christian now, my life is in His hands and for Him to determine, I shouldn’t go chasing after superstitions anymore. Old habits die hard though and I still sneak a peek every now and again. I look because I want to know what lies ahead. I think we’re programmed to seek out certainty, to look for ‘signs’ whereas “faith is the assurance of what we hope for, being certain of what we cannot see” (Hebrew 11:1).
The story of Jonah is a story about conversion, repentance and forgiveness. It is also a story about God’s perseverance with us believers even when we don’t heed His first call or need ‘signs’ to deepen our conviction. Jonah is the reluctant apostle. When Jonah receives his apostolic mission, he panics and flees. Despite his efforts to escape though, a series of events occur that leads Jonah right back to God and eventually he submits, and preaches God’s message of repentance to Nineveh. Jonah believed and took God’s deliverance as a sign that he needed to submit to God – “what I have vowed, I will make good – deliverance comes from Yahweh, my God” (Jonah 2:10). The Ninevites also believed and took Jonah’s message to them as a sign from God, and repented. In our reading in Romans, Paul is called, “an apostle set apart” because he believed and saw his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, as a sign of his calling to tell the Gospel of Good News.
In today’s gospel, the crowd Jesus addresses is also looking for a sign, but they were disbelieving. They wanted signs to see if he genuinely was who he claimed to be. Jesus refuses to give them one. The message Jesus came to preach was one of faith – “The work God wants is this; that you believe in the One whom God has sent… I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall never be hungry and whoever believes in me shall never be thirsty” (John 6:29, 35).
Like the crowd gathered around Jesus, we constantly look for affirmation. We look for signs from God, even when God has no need to prove Himself to us. When Jesus says, “People of the present time are evil people” (Luke 11: 29) he doesn’t mean we are a generation of axe murderers. He means we are a generation of doubters and skeptics – we need to see signs before we believe. And we need to see them constantly. When our demands for signs are not met, or our prayers not answered as we expected, we rebel, complain and lament. We’re not unlike the Hebrews who rebelled against God and Moses, who eventually perished in the desert.
When we pray, do our prayers read like a litany of requests for favors and signs? Or are they prayers of thanksgiving for the wonderful gift of faith that we have received from Him?
“The upright one shall live by faith” – Romans 1:17
(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: We pray for God to strengthen our faith, so we do not for the arguments of skeptics and intellects, who constantly challenge His existence.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the prayers of our loved ones in Christ, whose constant prayers help us to stay on His path.
Tue, 11 Oct – Romans 1:16-25; Luke 11:37-41
Wed, 12 Oct – Romans 2:1-11; Luke 11:42-46
Thu, 13 Oct – Romans 3:21-30; Luke 11:47-54
Fri, 14 Oct – Romans 4:1-8; Luke 12:1-7; Memorial for St Callistus I, Pope & Martyr
Sat, 15 Oct – Romans 4:13.16-18; Luke 12:8-12; Memorial for St Teresa of Jesus, Virgin & Doctor of the Church
Sun, 16 Oct – Isaiah 45:1.4-6; Thessalonians 1:1-5; Matthew 22:15-21; Twenty-Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time