Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Sign of Jonah and the Year of Faith - Homily on Luke 11, 29-32

The Gospel today reminds us of our need to live by faith and not to depend on signs and wonders.  The crowd demanded a sign from Jesus before they would believe in him. He tells them no sign will be given them except the sign of Jonah. He is referring to the fact that Jonah was three days in the belly of a great fish. So Jesus would be spend three days in the earth after his death, but on the third day rise.

In the meantime, the people should have repented and believed because of the truth he spoke, just as the Ninevites repented at the preaching of Jonah.

Jonah was a reluctant prophet. He didn’t want to preach to the Ninevites, not because he was afraid he would be rejected, but because he was afraid his enemies would repent.  Jesus is far greater than Jonah, because he is God himself.  If the Ninevites repented at the preaching of Jonah, the crowd should have been moved to repentance even more by the Word made flesh.

Let’s not be like the crowd who demands signs before we believe.  Let’s not be like Jonah who feared sinners would repent and be saved.  We need to strongly denounce sin.  At the same time we must love sinners.  Especially during Lent we should pray, do penance and work for their conversion. St. Paul tells us that God ‘wills all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.’ (1 Timothy 2, 4) We should want the same.

This is a special year to grow in faith.  On October 11, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI issued an Apostolic Letter entitled Porta Fidei or Door of Faith to begin a Year of Faith which will last until November 24, 2013, the Solemnity of Christ the King.

He chose to begin the Year of Faith on October 11th because it was the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council (October 11, 1962 - December 8, 1965) and also the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church by Blessed John Paul II.  Pope Benedict believes that the Second Vatican Council was a  ‘the great grace bestowed on the Church in the twentieth century’ that is ‘ a sure compass by which to take our bearings in the century now beginning.’

While many appeal to a "spirit of Vatican II" which has little or no relevance to the council documents, the Holy Father is convinced that the Second Vatican Council, if interpreted and implemented according to the mind of the Church, can be a powerful guide for the renewal of the Church.

Pope Benedict XVI says that The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a systematic presentation of the Catholic Faith that enables the faithful to know the full symphony of Faith. In the Catechism ‘ we see the wealth of teaching that the Church has received, safeguarded and proposed in her two thousand years of history. From Sacred Scripture to the Fathers of the Church, from theological masters to the saints across the centuries, the Catechism provides a permanent record of the many ways in which the Church has meditated on the faith and made progress in doctrine so as to offer certitude to believers in their lives of faith.’

Blessed John Paul II declared that the Catechism of the Catholic Church is ‘a sure norm for teaching the faith’.  It was his hope that it would ‘serve the renewal to which the Holy Spirit ceaselessly calls the Church of God, the Body of Christ, on her pilgrimage to the undiminished light of the Kingdom!’ 

Every Catholic home should have a Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The Pope wants us to know and to treasure our faith, and to be fully converted to the Lord. The more we know and live our faith the easier we can share it with others with deep conviction.

Faith is deepened through prayer.  The summit towards which the activity of the Church is directed, and also the source from which all its power flows, is the Eucharist.  He hopes the Year of faith will deepen our love and appreciation for Jesus in the Eucharist.

The Pope also wants us to trace the history of our faith.  He wants us to see how the history of the Church has been marked by the interweaving of holiness and sin.  He wants s to know and love the great figures of our faith - Mary and the Apostles, to the saints, martyrs, confessors and virgins.  
He says it’s also a time to intensify our witness to charity, which is faith in action.  The Pope says “What the world is in particular need of today is the credible witness of people enlightened in mind and heart by the word of the Lord, and capable of opening the hearts and minds of many to the desire for God and for true life, life without end.”

In the conclusion of Porta Fidei, Pope Benedict XVI acknowledges the suffering that many Christians experience each day. He says  “How many believers, even in our own day, are tested by God’s silence when they would rather hear his consoling voice! The trials of life, while helping us to understand the mystery of the Cross and to participate in the sufferings of Christ (cf. Col 1:24), are a prelude to the joy and hope to which faith leads: “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10). We believe with firm certitude that the Lord Jesus has conquered evil and death. With this sure confidence we entrust ourselves to him: he, present in our midst, overcomes the power of the evil one (cf. Lk 11:20); and the Church, the visible community of his mercy, abides in him as a sign of definitive reconciliation with the Father.

Let us entrust this time of grace to the Mother of God, proclaimed “blessed because she believed” (Lk 1:45)."

1 comment:

Memom said...

Thanks, Father. Great teaching!
Have you seen this initiative, Father? It goes right along with your homily. What do you think about it? I hope it happens.
"A new grassroots initiative has been started. It's aim is to educate Catholics directly from the Catechism during Mass. Please read on and share this with others who agree that We Want To Be Taught!
Through the impetus, direction, and guidance of Msgr. Philip Reilly, the Founder and Executive Director of the Helpers of God's Precious Infants, a movement called "We Want To Be Taught" has been started. We are asking the Magisterium of the Catholic Church to produce an Ordinary Sunday catechetical lectionary so to better educate the laity during Mass. Please view the website to learn more, sign, and share with others. This is an important movement and has the potential to greatly increase Mass attendance and evangelize the world! When the time is right,this website WILL be presented to the Holy Father. Please sign this petition and share!!"