Scripture: Lectionary 395: Monday, July 23. Micah 6:1-4,6-8. Psalm 50:5-6.8-9.16-17. Matthew 12:38-42:
Some of the doubting followers of Jesus (the lawyers and religious minded persons) address Jesus as a teacher, but expect and want him to show them a miracle (a sign). Jesus responds as a teacher of wisdom and helps them to overcome their curiosity and their rigidity—if they want to change. They apparently do not so he pursues their questions with answers based on the Scriptures that they were familiar with. He takes them and us back to the book of Jonah (a small parable-like book of four chapters) and to the historical books that mention Solomon and the Queen of the South (Ethiopia).
Teachers are meant to be wisdom figures and not miracle workers. He accepts their addressing him as teacher but not as one who is to work a miracle for them who are all learners.
Jonah is considered a creative story about the resisting prophet who tries to escape his call as a prophet. He is a pouter and in some ways a stubborn person who wants everything to go his way. He learns from the Lord that he has a long way to go and grow before he is an authentic prophet of the Lord. Jesus uses the story to speak of his
upcoming death and resurrection. Like Jonah he will be buried not in a whale or big fish’s belly, but in the earth. He will erupt like Jonah from the jaws of death. This is the symbolic sign he gives them as a teacher. They do not bite and therefore he continues further with more wisdom examples that come from the history of the annals about
Solomon. The Queen of the South came a long way to hear the wisdom of the sagacious King of Judah. Jesus who is Wisdom personified again remarks that a “greater than Solomon is here.”
The doubters and curious ones miss the lesson of Jesus and continue in their own mindsets. Jesus as a wisdom teacher does so in order to educate them—something greater than just giving them lessons that answer their questions. We all are teachers to some extent and if we seek to be wise we will need to be educators who have learned the discipline of what it takes to be a teacher. Wisdom follows and does more than answer people with curious interest in things that seem like miracles. It is said that St. Thomas Aquinas found that learners who are humble and docile are true students who have the potential to become teachers and even educators. May we learn to believe beyond signs and miracles and listen to the living voice of Jesus giving us true wisdom about this life and the next. Amen.
Copyright 2012 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.