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Monday of the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. At the judgment the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation and she will condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here. At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, I thank you and I praise you for coming to proclaim the Kingdom of God, for accompanying us on our journey of life through the Holy Spirit, for leading the way to the Father, and for opening Heaven to us through your Passion and Resurrection.
- Evil Generation: Jesus said to them, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” Beginning with this Gospel passage in Luke and for the next several days, the liturgy focuses on Jesus’ rebuke of the people of Israel and its priestly class, the Pharisees. We can be tempted to assume his condemnation was for another people in another time and does not include us. Evil is the absence of good, and therefore the absence of God who is all good. In this increasingly secular world in which God is no longer the fulcrum by which our society turns, our generation can also be called evil. Jonah was a Jewish prophet sent to a pagan city to proclaim repentance. Jesus is the Son of God sent to all people of all times to proclaim repentance, a turning back to God. The Ninevites listened to Jonah. We need to ask ourselves, “Are we listening?”
- Wisdom of Solomon: Solomon, the young son of King David, asked God when he inherited the throne from his father to “Give your servant, therefore, a listening heart to judge your people and to distinguish between good and evil” (1 Kings 3:9). God was pleased to answer Solomon’s prayer because he did not ask for what was earthly, but for the virtue of God’s wisdom, considered the highest gift of the Holy Spirit. In our culture, where there are “Those who call evil good, and good evil, who change darkness to light, and light into darkness, who change bitter to sweet, and sweet into bitter!… Those who are wise in their own eyes, prudent in their own view” (Isaiah 5:20-21), we too should ask for wisdom. Solomon tells us why it is worth the ask: “For Wisdom is mobile beyond all motion, and she penetrates and pervades all things by reason of her purity. For she is a breath of the might of God and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; therefore nothing defiled can enter into her. For she is the reflection of eternal light, the spotless mirror of the power of God, the image of his goodness. Although she is one, she can do all things, and she renews everything while herself perduring; Passing into holy souls from age to age, she produces friends of God and prophets. For God loves nothing so much as the one who dwells with Wisdom” (Wisdom 7:24-28).
- Something Greater: Like God speaking through thunder to Moses and the Israelites in the desert, Jesus, the Son of God, was doing the same in order to shake the people out of their spiritual stupor. Jesus spoke harshly to get their attention because the failure of these people to listen and repent could cost them the salvation of their souls. By allowing our societal sufferings, God might be calling us to action, shaking us out of our stupor. “Tough love” is necessary when we as a people stop listening to and following God. This sober reflection is not without hope. Jesus came, he called, he anointed, and he sent out his disciples to all the nations. Steeped in wisdom through the sacraments of the Church, Christians are privileged and responsible to bring his light into the darkness so evil can be exposed and good chosen.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, I am sometimes frightened by your words. In a culture that puts such an emphasis on feelings, the task you give us to bring your love and truth to others is daunting. I know that you are the source of love and goodness, and you cannot be anything but love and goodness. Form my mind, my heart, my will so that you are my everything. I need you so I can help save souls, especially mine! Grant me your wisdom and the courage to express it.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will ask the Holy Spirit to open the gift of wisdom, and all my baptismal gifts, so I can light the darkness in souls today.
For Further Reflection: Consider meditating on passages from the Book of Wisdom.
Nan Balfour is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She volunteers as a writer and speaker for Pilgrim Center of Hope, a Catholic evangelization ministry that answers Christ’s call by guiding people to encounter him so as to live in hope as pilgrims in daily life.