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Lectionary 227: The Sign of Jonah

February 23, 2015


Lectionary 227. Scripture: Feb.25. Jonah 3:1-10.  Psalm 51:3-4,12-13, 16-19.  Luke 11: 29-32:

Yesterday’s Scripture taken from Mark’s Gospel presentedt Jesus proclaiming that the kingdom is near and that we should repent and believe the Gospel. The message is similar to what we hear in today’s liturgy of the word.  Jonah prophesies and calls the Ninevites to repent at once.  Amazingly, they all repent from the top down to the animals who also are forced to fast by the command of the king.  Their fasting included being clothed in sackcloth and sitting in ashes.

Mark had written for the Church that was founded upon the apostles but now was without them.  Fr. Raymond E. Brown,  in the book “The Churches the Apostles left behind” addresses this for all four gospels.  It is they who pass on the words of Jesus down through the ages to us and we have easy access to them in so many ways.  We have the same message as the early Christians have: “Repent and believe the Gospel.”

Luke gives us a scene in which Jesus refers to the prophet Jonah that continues this message of repentance.  Jesus refers to the sign of Jonah that is given to those contemporaneous with the apostles and tells all to listen and learn from Jonah and Jesus about repentance.  Incidentally, Thomas Merton’s book “The Sign of Jonah” comes to mind, but it is not about repentance but prayer and contemplation. Jesus is speaking wisdom when he says, “Just as Jonah was a sign for the Ninevites, wo will the Son of Man (Jesus himself) be a sign for the present age.”

During Lent our personal responses to the calls of Jesus and the prophets will help us to repent (metanoia, a reversal of our mindset and behavior) if we open our hearts and minds to the cry of the prophets and listen responsibly to the words of Jesus.  Lent is on its way, let us continue together on the journey with Jesus.  Amen.


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