Gospel Reflection for Wednesday – First Week of Lent (1 March) – Jesus will be a sign just like Jonah
Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Luke (11: 29-32) in which Jesus responds to the request for a sign.
Fr Paul says the core theme of the Gospel today is that Jesus will be a sign just like Jonah. At different times the Pharisees ask for a sign from heaven to test Jesus and he refuses. They do this because at the time of Jesus there were a number of charismatic Galilean rabbis who did work such signs.
One example was the Rabbi Honi who was known as the Rain Maker. This Rabbi was known for his warm relationship with God and for the answers to his prayers and so was people asked him to pray for rain and the prayers were answered. They saw it as a sign.
In the passage we read today, however, using his mysterious preferred title ‘Son of man’ Jesus offers the sign of the prophet Jonah. Jonah’s mission to Nineveh was the stock standard case of conversion: the wicked gentile city immediately converts when Johnah preaches and does penance, and so Jesus is saying that the Ninevites are the example for Israel and the Pharisees to do the same.
Then there is the mention of Solomon who was the figure of Wisdom, and the gentile Queen of the South who came from the ends of the earth because she recognised this God-given Wisdom of Solomon.
Now, as we are told in the Gospel, something greater than either Jonah or Solomon is present, and the Pharisees and Israel refuse to listen and convert.
Fr Paul notes today’s Gospel lesson – Lent is a time to listen and repent.