A Powerful Sign

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Monday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Matthew 12:38-42

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, “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.”

Opening Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, fill me with your gifts of understanding, knowledge, and wisdom so that I might receive your Word and let it flourish in me. 

Encountering Christ:

  1. Email from God?: A friend told me recently that she wished God would send her an email telling her exactly what she should do in a difficult situation. She, like many of us, was seeking a sign. We all want definitive answers to our troubles. But giving us direct answers is not how God usually works. Sometimes the signs we receive are subtle, or perhaps we don’t see them because we do not like the answers that God reveals to us in prayer. Instead of seeking a sign when we have a problem, we can pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as understanding, knowledge, and wisdom to help us discern God’s will.
  2. The Sign of Jonah: Jonah experienced three days and nights in the belly of the whale. He cried out to God to deliver him from “Sheol,” or the underworld (Jonah 2:3). Upon God’s direction, the whale spit Jonah out onto the dry land—he was “resurrected” (Jonah 2:16). Jesus refers to the story of Jonah in order to point to his Resurrection. The scribes and the Pharisees sought a sign and Jesus delivered one. What more powerful sign of Jesus’s divinity could we ask for than the miracle of his Resurrection?
  3. In the Heart of the Earth: Jesus prophesied that he would be “in the heart of the earth” for three days and nights. Indeed, he was buried in a tomb on Good Friday and then triumphantly went to the underworld to release the captives there (CCC 633). Jesus “descended into the lower parts of the earth. He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens” (Ephesians 4:9). Jesus went to the heart of the earth to save and heal souls. God became man, taking on our flesh and blood, for this mission: to save us by destroying death. St. Paul writes, “Now since the children share in blood and flesh, he likewise shared in them, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14).

Conversing with Christ: Jesus, you suffered, died, and were buried in the heart of the earth in order to save humankind. I am in awestruck gratitude by your love for us. Come dwell in my heart and heal it from the things that cause me to sin against you and others. Find the old wounds in my heart that seem dead and buried; speak your Word to them and resurrect them. Restore my heart to health by your life and light.

Resolution: Lord, today by your grace, I will pray for the poor souls in purgatory who await admittance into heaven.

For Further Reflection: Read the Catechism’s teaching Christ Descended Into Hell. On the Third Day He Rose Again. Also, read the article 9 Ways Jonah Prefigured Jesus from Catholic Exchange. 

Written by Carey Boyzuck.

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