Mercy And The Sign of Jonah

10.15.18 Mon. wk. 28 – O. T.  (II)

Galatians 4: 22 – 24, 26 – 27, 31 – 5: 1

Luke 11:  29 -32

While still more people gathered in the crowd, he said to them,  “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah.  Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation.  At the judgment the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation and she will condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here.  At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here.           The Gospel of the Lord

Homily:  Fr. Mike Murphy                             Mercy And The Sign of Jonah

What is the “Sign of Jonah” (Luke 11:29)?  It is a sign that has two meanings.  The first sign of Jonah – is the sign of the Resurrection of †Jesus.  Jonah was buried in the belly of a whale for three days and on the third day he was released from the darkness.  †Jesus was buried in the tomb for three days and on the third day He was raised out of the darkness.

The second sign of Jonah – is that of repentance.  The city of Nineveh had a population of approximately 120,000 people.  Nineveh was about four times larger than the City of Coronado and they all repented when they heard the preaching of Jonah.  What was God’s response to their repentance?  Sparing them the destruction He had intended; giving them new life; giving them another chance.

A heart that repents is an eternal gift.  If someone does something to hurt you – if they ask forgiveness – repent and change their life – the heavenly hosts rejoice.  Four chapters later – in Luke’s Gospel – at the end of the parable of the Lost Sheep – this is what †Jesus said: “I tell you in the same way – there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents – than over 99 righteous people who have no need for repentance”. (Luke 15:8)  †Jesus rejoices oveer repentance!  What do we pray during the Easter Vigil – in the Exsultet: “O Happy Faults”!  Why is it a happy fault?  Because the Lord is joyful when we repent from our faults and our sins.  The Lord rejoices!

As †Jesus roamed throughout Judea, He embraced myriads of sinners, public sinners – but they repented – they received and embraced the teaching of †Jesus.  Even with all this the Pharisees missed the sign.  They continued to condemn sinners – people whom they thought were bad people – who weren’t like them.  And they condemned †Jesus, who ate with them as well.

We live in a culture where there is no shortage of Pharisees.  They are everywhere and unfortunately – many times – it is among the Christian people themselves.  Many Christians have become blinded to the sign of Jonah.  They are quick to condemn the slightest flaw in anyone – pointing out the in the eye of another – while not seeing the plank in their own eye.

For those who are condemned (the sinners) in many ways they feel like they have been thrown overboard – just abandoned – thrown overboard like Jonah was.  Many Christians are condemned by their own brothers and sisters in the faith.

I came across this poem recently that I want to share with you.  It is called…

The Christian Plummet

                                  Down into the icy depths you plunge,

                                  The cold, dark undertow of your depression,

                                  Even your memories of light, made strange,

                                  As you fall further from all comprehension.


                                  You feel as though they have thrown you overboard,

                                  Your fellow Christians on a sunlit deck,

                                  A stone cold Jonah on whom scorn is poured,

                                  A sacrifice to save them from the wreck.


                                  But someone has their hands on your long line.

                                  You sound for them the depths they sail above,

                                  One who takes Jonah as His only sign,

                                  inks lower still, to hold you in His love.

                                  And, though you cannot see, or speak, or breathe,

                                  The everlasting arms are underneath.

         When we condemn someone, or spread gossip about them, †Jesus does not participate.  †Jesus holds that person in love.  Then, He looks at the accuser with confusion.  Why would you do this to someone He loves?  Why are you not as merciful as He?  Why are you blind to the “sign of Jonah”?

St. Teresa of Avila wrote often about the mercy of God.  She realized in her own life that her salvation came through the mercy of †Jesus.  He doctrine on the mercy and forgiveness of God rose out of her own story.  The mercy of God, reaching out to the misery of human beings, it not an exception, it is the law of God!  Mercy pervades the divine attitude.  In her Autobiography, St. Teresa wrote:  “I often marveled to think of the great goodness of God and my soul delighted in seeing His amazing magnificence and mercy…As miserable and imperfect as my deeds were, the Lord improved and perfected them and gave them value, and the evils and sins He then hid” (The Book of Her Life; Chapter 4.10)

†Jesus called His generation, “an evil generation” because it sought a sign.  In its own way, every generation is an evil generation.  Yet, God is gracious and overflowing in His mercy.  Through His mercy and forgiveness, the Lord continues to gather a people to Himself.  If we choose to condemn, ridicule and reject others for their sin that puts us OUTSIDE the people + Jesus is gathering for Himself.  The grace and mercy of God is greater than any sin we can commit.

The Lord us generous in removing our sin through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Let us have recourse to this Sacrament; it is where the Lord reaches down and lifts us from the abyss.  It is that easy for us.  St. Teresa wrote:  “(In the Sacraments, Lord) You have left such a medicine and ointment for our wounds, because this medicine not only covers these wounds but takes them away completely…And who, my Lord, wouldn’t be amazed by so much mercy and a favor so large, for a betrayal so ugly and abominable?” (The Book of Her Life; Chapter 19.5)

Let your daily life witness to the “sign of Jonah”; forgiving and compassionate.  It is a sign of the people †Jesus is gathering for Himself.

In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.