Scripture: Lectionary 467 Mon. Oct.15. Galatians 4:22-24.5:1. Psalm 113: 1-2,3-4, 5.6-7. Luke 11:29-32.
Jonas is mentioned only nine times in the New Testament; five times in Matthew and four times in Luke. Both are pronouncement sayings of Jesus but each has its own purpose. In Matthew 12:38-42 and Luke 11:29-32 which is our Gospel passage for today. Matthew orients the pronouncement toward the Resurrection; Luke toward a spirit of conversion. Matthew’s application is more typological and symbolical while Luke gives us the main point that the little book of Jonah centers upon. It shows that the prophet must preach repentance, but he was more concerned about himself. Nevertheless, he speaks out the call of repentance to the Ninevites and every living creature “repents in sackcloth and ashes.”
Conversion (metanoia) and repentance are prophetic demands. This is more important than associating prophets with telling the future.
Jesus is showing through the example given in the book of Jonah (just four chapters) that his own preaching of repentance is necessary for entrance into the kingdom of God. Like the prophet Jonah, Jesus extends this call to all peoples through both the Ninevites as in Jonah and then through the Queen of Ethiopia of the south. The universalism of Luke shines through this passage. We are all called to conversion and repentance. In fact, if we look at Jesus’ words in Mark, he first calls us to “repent and believe the Gospel!”
We do not forget how Matthew applies this book to the resurrection of Jesus as a sign Jesus gives his listeners. To believe in the Resurrection we must first be converted and have a change of mind and heart so that our faith may lead us to believe in Jesus’ promise of the resurrection.
Repentance and a daily renewal of conversion is necessary to develop our own spiritual life. Spirituality is a day by day process, hopefully, each day should make us a little better in responding to Jesus and the Gospel. We are to take one step at a time while moving forward not backward. Recalling the Presence of God, living in the present moment, and listening to Jesus help us to follow him on the road to Jerusalem where we will enter into the mystery of his sufferings, death, and resurrection. The basics of the spiritual life are within the Paschal Mystery. All the rest is simply commentary. Amen.