Today’s Gospel: Luke 11:29-32
Today’s Gospel Reading mentions two Old Testament ministers to the Gentiles: Jonah and Solomon. Jonah ministered to the Assyrians in Ninevah (Jon 3), and Solomon ministered to the Queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10). “At the judgment,” Jesus says that the Queen of Sheba and the Ninvevites “will rise with the men of this generation and condemn it.”
What exactly were the people doing that made them an “evil generation”? As Gentiles, the Ninevites and the Queen of Sheba were not part of God’s covenantal family. Yet, when God sent Jonah and Solomon to minister to them, they recognized their greatness and heeded God’s Word. Today’s Gospel says that the Queen of Sheba “came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon,” and the Ninevites “repented at the preaching of Jonah.”
If you read that paragraph and were unphased by it, re-read it. It’s a big stinkin’ deal when those outside of God’s covenantal family recognize that He is God. The Ninevites and the Queen of Sheba are to be examples to the people Jesus speaks with. He calls them an “evil generation” because they are too busy looking for a sign to see Him. Jesus. The Christ. The Son of Man. He’s right there in front of them, but they want proof.
It’s always easy to read these stories with our twenty-first century Monday morning quarterback lenses. “Those dingalings. What were they thinking?! Jesus is right there. What more could they want than HIM?!”
Then, I realize that I’m them. I’m worse than them. Instead of being a first century Jew looking for a sign that the Messiah is truly there, I know that He has come, He’s still in our midst, I get to receive Him in the Eucharist at Mass. Despite all that, I still put other gods before Him–sometimes minutes after leaving the church parking lot.
I have the benefit of all of the sacramental graces as a Catholic, and I need to start reading the signs. By “reading the signs,” I mean that I should start observing those sacramental graces in action around me. Do we even recognize what a sacrament is?
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the sacraments “are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions” (CCC 1131).
In plain English, the sacraments are visible signs that Christ created and gave to the Church to give us divine life. There’s just that one huge detail at the end–we have to have the “required dispositions” to actually receive the graces from the sacraments.
All of the Church’s “smells and bells” focus us on the physical reality of our Faith. Christ Himself is still among us. We need only open our eyes and ears to His Presence.
Am I seeking something other than Christ?
Even if I have found Him, am I allowing Him to satisfy my soul?
How can I be a sign to others of Christ’s mercy?
Lord, forgive me for the times I sought anything less than You. Please open my eyes and ears to Your Presence in my daily life. Help me to actualize the sacramental graces available to me through Your Church. Grant me the courage to receive the sacraments if I have been away, and allow my life to be a sign to others of your boundless mercy. Amen.
Copyright 2014 Catherine Boucher