Lectio Divina: Luke 11:29-32
1) Opening prayer
our help and guide,
make your love the foundation of our lives.
May our love for you express itself
in our eagerness to do good for others.
You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Luke 11: 29-32
The crowds got even bigger and Jesus addressed them, 'This is an evil generation; it is asking for a sign. The only sign it will be given is the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of man be a sign to this generation.
On Judgement Day the Queen of the South will stand up against the people of this generation and be their condemnation, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, look, there is something greater than Solomon here.
On Judgement Day the men of Nineveh will appear against this generation and be its condemnation, because when Jonah preached they repented; and, look, there is something greater than Jonah here.
• The Gospel today presents a very hard accusation of Jesus against the Pharisees and the Scribes. They wanted Jesus to give them a sign, because they did not believe in the signs and in the miracles which He was working. This accusation of Jesus continues in the Gospels of the following days. In meditating on these Gospels we have to be very attentive not to generalize the accusation of Jesus as if it were addressed to the Hebrew people. In the past, this lack of attention, unfortunately, contributed to an increase in anti-semitism among Christians, which has caused so much harm to humanity throughout the centuries. Instead of pointing the finger against the Pharisees of the time of Jesus, it is better to look at ourselves in the mirror of the texts to discover in them the Pharisee which may live hidden in our Church and in each one of us, and who merits this criticism from Jesus.
• Luke 11: 29-30: The sign of Jonah. “At that time, the people crowed and Jesus began to say: This is an evil generation; it is asking for a sign. The only sign it will be given is the sign of Jonah”. The Gospel of Matthew says that it was the Scribes and the Pharisees who were asking for a sign (Mt 12: 38). They wanted Jesus to work a sign for them, a miracle, in such a way that they could become aware if He was the one sent by God, as they had imagined. They wanted Jesus to submit himself to their criteria. They wanted to fit Him into the framework of their own idea of the Messiah. There was no openness for a possible conversion in them. But Jesus did not submit himself to their request. The Gospel of Mark says that Jesus, before the request of the Pharisees sighed profoundly (Mk 8: 12), probably because He was upset and sad in the face of such blindness. It serves nothing to try to show a beautiful picture to a person who does not want to open their eyes. The only sign that will be given is the sign of Jonah. “For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of man be a sign to this generation “. How will this sign of the Son of man be? The Gospel of Matthew responds: “For as Jonah remained in the belly of the sea-monster for three days and three nights, so will the Son of man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights” (Mt 12: 40). The only sign will be the resurrection of Jesus. This is the sign which will be given in the future to the Scribes and the Pharisees. Jesus, who was condemned to death by them and to death on the cross, will rise from the dead by God and will continue to resurrect in many ways in those who believe in him. The sign which converts is not the miracles but the witness of life!
• Luke 11: 31: Solomon and the Queen of the South. The reference to the conversion of the people of Nineveh associates and recalls the conversion of the Queen of the South: “The Queen of the South will stand up against this generation and be their condemnation; because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and look, there is something greater than Solomon here”. This reminder of the episode of the Queen of the South who recognizes the wisdom of Solomon shows how the Bible was used at that time. It was by association. The principal rule for the interpretation was this one: “The Bible is explained by the Bible”. Up until now, this is one of the more important norms for the interpretation of the Bible, especially for the reading of the Word of God in a climate of prayer.
• Luke 11: 32: And Look there is something greater than Solomon here. After the digression on Solomon and on the Queen of the South, Jesus returns to speak about the sign of Jonah: “The men of Nineveh will appear against this generation and be its condemnation, because when Jonah preached they repented”. The people of Nineveh were converted because of the witness of the preaching of Jonah. He denounces the unbelief of the Scribes and of the Pharisees because “something greater than Jonah is here”. Jesus is greater than Jonah, greater than Solomon. For us Christians, He is the principal key for Scripture (2Co 3: 14-18).
4) Personal questions
• Jesus criticizes the Scribes and the Pharisees who managed to deny the evidence, rendering themselves incapable to recognize the call of God in the events. As Christians today, personally and collectively, do we deserve the same criticism of Jesus?
• Níneveh was converted because of the preaching of Jonah. The Scribes and the Pharisees were not converted. Today, the calls of reality cause changes and conversions in people in the whole world: the ecological threat, urbanization that dehumanizes, consumerism which standardizes and alienates, injustice, violence, etc. Many Christians live far away from these calls of God which come from reality.
5) Concluding prayer
Praise, servants of Yahweh,
praise the name of Yahweh.
Blessed be the name of Yahweh,
henceforth and for ever. (Ps 113: 1-2)