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Monday, October 12, 2009

Sign of Jonah

As I have the honor of being the celebrant at today's "leftover" Mass before our retreat begins, I thought I might as well share my reflections with all y'all on the gospel passage Luke 11:29-32.

Jesus says, "This is an evil generation..." Why? Not because it was corrupt. Not because it was violent. Not because it was greedy. But because it sought a sign. A sign of what? A sign of God's blessing and approval for what Jesus had to say.

In Jesus' words are an implicit accusation of spiritual blindness. He threatens them with the "sign of Jonah." Other gospels redact this to include the story of the big fish as prefiguring Jesus' three days in the tomb. But in Luke's gospel it's more blunt.

The Ninevites, non-Jews, responded enthusiastically to the preaching of Jonah. The Queen of Sheba, a non-Jew, traveled great distances to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Jesus is greater than Jonah and Solomon and, if his people don't recognize God in Jesus' words, the Gentiles will.

By Jesus' standard we ask ourselves: Is Maryknoll an evil Society? Not because we are corrupt. Not because we are violent. Not because we are greedy. But precisely because our spiritual blindness prevents us from recognizing and acknowledging the presence of holiness and goodness in our own country, in our own church, in our own Society and in our own members. Maryknoller are used to looking for, expecting and discovering God in outsiders; we just have difficulties seeing God in ourselves.

So many visitors and guests (i.e. non Maryknollers) comment how peaceful, holy and good it is to visit our Center—the very things we either ignore or take for granted. The sign of Jonah!

May this week's retreat open our eyes to the holiness of the person sitting next to us in chapel, at meetings and at meals.

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