Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Matthew (12: 38-42) in which some of the Scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus, “Master, we want to see a sign from you”.
Fr Paul says we hear in this Gospel the Scribes and the Pharisees asking for a sign from Jesus to test him. In this passage, using his mysterious preferred title ‘Son of man’, which he often uses in connection with the Passion, he offers the sign of the prophet Jonah.
Now, Jonah is the Jewish prophet who, initially, refused his God-given mission. Nineveh is the wicked gentile city who immediately converts and does penance when God asks them to. It was simply about conversion. About doing what God wanted.
Similarly, Solomon was the stock figure of Wisdom, and the gentile Queen of the South (or the Queen of Sheba) recognised the God-given Wisdom of Solomon. Again, it is about recognising and listening to God.
So, the Pharisees, the most observant of the People of God, refuse to recognise God’s teaching when it comes through Jesus, while others, those who are outsiders recognised it and respond to it immediately.
As our week begins, Fr Paul says, we might reflect – ‘Do I rely on signs from God in my own faith life or do I trust and believe in God’s word? ‘