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The demand for a sign

Gospel Reading: Mt 12:38-42

Some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” He said to them in reply, “An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.

Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and there is something greater than Jonah here. At the judgment the queen of the south will arise with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and there is something greater than Solomon here.”


What do the religious leaders have in mind in seeking a sign? Who or what else in the way of a sign can they conceivably expect? They have already seen miracles of every imaginable type. The blind see, the deaf hear, lepers are cleansed, the mute speak, the paralyzed walk, the demon-possessed are made whole. They obviously want something more, something even more dramatic, that will assure them that Jesus is from God. Maybe a light shining from heaven will do the trick, or perhaps a voice from the skies. But there will be no sign – at least not of the sort they want. Jesus refuses to give a sign because no quantity of signs will remove the scales from their eyes. Jesus has made the action of God visible in every deed he has performed, and they have refused to see it. There is, however, one sign that Jesus is willing to promise – “the sign of Jonah the prophet” (v 39). The sign of the prophet Jonah is the ultimate sign, the most decisive disclosure of God’s action in Jesus – Jesus’ death and resurrection. This means that the resurrection will serve to confirm Jesus’ ministry, to place the stamp of validation upon all his acts of mercy.

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“To the upright I will show the saving power of God” (cf Ps 50:23b).

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SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.