OCTOBER 11, 2010 – MONDAY OF 28TH WEEK; LUKE 11:29-32


YOU HAVE A GREATER THAN JONAH HERE. Jesus in this Gospel text we have just heard makes a bold claim concerning his own person. He was to present himself as one possessing even greater dignity and personal worth by far than any prophet ever ventured to ascribe to himself. Saint John recorded our Lord’s words that affirmed in direct, forceful terms that he is not only the Father’s emissary, but one with his very substance. More than an intimate associate, he states: ”I and the Father are one.” The Greek text literally translated has it that “I and the Father are one thing.”


This declaration made by the Lord that he was one greater than Jonah came as a response to those who heard him preaching and who had responded, not with a change of heart, but with the demand for a sign. He has no patience with such a demand and treats it as an indication of their lack of the proper attitude. He does not hesitate to call the crowd an evil generation, and declares bluntly that “no sign will be given save the sign of Jonah.”
By way of explaining just what that sign consists of, he refers to Jonah’s preaching that led to the repentance and conversion of the Ninevites.  Faith that comes from a heart seeking the truth that concerns our relation to God is what our Lord requires of those who encounter his person and his words. He will not settle for any substitute nor compromise his mission by gratifying a demand for an extraordinary material miracle as a condition for yielding their belief.  


Jonah was a sign not only through the conversions that attended his preaching, but also by virtue of the three days spent in the belly of the whale and then being delivered so as to carry out his mission. Jesus was to give this sign but only to his chosen witnesses. Others are to believe in his resurrection through the words of his apostles, not by virtue to see him in his risen flesh. We are among such hearers of the word. Our Lord pronounced blessed those who, unlike Thomas, who withheld faith until he saw the risen Christ in the flesh, have not seen and yet believe. The word of God has been presented to us accompanied by the grace of the Spirit of Christ. “My words are spirit and life”, Jesus affirmed.  In the measure we take it to our heart and seek to live by it, this word becomes a source of the life that is unending. For as our Lord assures us, in obedience to his word we become the dwelling place of God himself: “If anyone love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him and we shall come to him and we shall make our abode with him.” To Martha he had already given assurance that “everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” (Jn11:26)


As we celebrate this Eucharist we are given renewed assurance by our Savior that he becomes for us an unending source of the life that is union with the Father. By living our faith in his word, in the daily events and encounters of each day, however ordinary they appear on the surface we already enter in the depth of our spirit into that world where God is all in all. May we set our heart then on making the whole of our life a service of trusting faith.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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