Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Daily Lenten inspiration, March 16, 2011 (Wednesday of the First Week of Lent)

Transcript of homily recorded on Wednesday, March 15, 2011

By Father Tim McGowan

Does anybody remember the name Jonah? You know something famous about the person named Jonah? What do you know? We got a fish story about Jonah. It doesn't say a whale, actually, in the Bible, but it does say a big fish. And the biggest fish we know is a whale.

Now, Jesus says in the Gospel that this is an evil generation; it seeks a sign. No sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah. So some people have interpreted that to mean ... Jonah spend how many days in the belly of the big fish? Three. And he was spit up on the shore, and he was told by God to go preach to the Ninevites repentance: turn away from their way of living; stop behaving the way you are behaving now and behave differently. And you know what they did? They listened. They did exactly that, and they avoided punishment. The punishment that God had planned for them he didn't do because they listened to Jonah and they turned their lives around.

Now, Jesus spent three days where? In the grave. Right? And he came out of the grave victorious over death, a victory he shares with all of us. He shares his victory of sin and death over us. So some people thought that that sign of Jonah is three days in the belly of the whale, and the three days that Jesus was in the belly of the earth. But, no, the sign is repentance. Jesus says, you have it greater than Jonah here. The people were not listening to his words. They were resisting him. And he said, look, when Jonah came preaching, the people of Nineva listened, turn their lives around and were spared punishment. "You have it greater than Jonah here," referring to himself. Then he said, the queen of the south came from the ends of earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon. But you have it greater than Solomon here. 

Now, the problem with the people in Jesus' day is that their minds were closed. They thought all the great events and all the great people were in the past. And there were great people and great events in the past. Great people: Jonah. People of wisdom: Solomon. And they've been called the great events when the queen came all the way over and listened to Solomon and when Jona went all the way over and preached to the Ninevites saying, you have something greater here and you're closing your mind to it. You have a greater truth in my words, you have a greater wisdom in my teachings.  

Now, Lent is a time when you and I try to open our minds to the truth and the wisdom of Jesus, that we not be the foolish people in the Gospel who did not recognize that right there in their midst was God's own son. Right here in our midst, in the Eucharist, in the Gospel, is God's son, and during Lent we're called to reform, to change our lives, to listen to God's word, be obedient to God's commands, and live in God's love. 

So, we're here to be strengthened so that we can be those good people who listen to the wisdom of Jesus and put his truth into practice in our life.

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