Rom 1:1-7; Ps 98:1-4; Lk 11:29-32
Entire nations and whole countries are commanded to break into song and to sing praise! Why? The LORD has done wondrous deeds; the LORD has won victory with his holy arm—with his outstretched arm. In the sight of the nations God has revealed his justice. In the sight of the nations he has made his salvation known. The wondrous deeds of the exodus and the exile have given the very ends of the earth a glimpse of the salvation the LORD has in mind for the whole human race. In remembering his kindness and faithfulness toward the house of Israel, the LORD has revealed how he wants to treat every tribe and nation. From the earliest days of revelation the house of Israel was intended to display the holiness and faithfulness of the LORD, God Almighty. In hearing the stories of wondrous deeds and the songs of glorious victories from the history of Israel, many nations would come to know his salvation. The Apostle Paul has no identity apart from the Gospel of God, and he calls all the nations to belong to Jesus Christ. Indeed the Lord Jesus is the One greater than Jonah and Solomon combined. Today’s Eucharist summons us to a renewal of our Baptism and Confirmation so that we might never hesitate to sing the song of His salvation and to tell the story of His victory.
The prophetic writings of the last few weeks have prepared us for the full revelation of the universal salvific will of God. This teaching is part of the Old Testament and fully developed in the New Testament. Saint Paul has surrendered himself and his will completely to the Lord Jesus Christ; he introduces himself as a slave of the Christ. This kind of slavery has nothing to do with the history of slavery in these United States. Saint Paul was not bought and sold as property. Nor was he held captive against his will. He did, however, give himself completely over to the will of God in Jesus Christ. This Son of God is also son of David. King David was a man after God’s own heart because he longed to gather all the nations into Jerusalem. He longed to have every tribe and people acclaim the LORD is King. This ancestor of the Lord Jesus longed for what was hidden in the very heart of God; indeed, the LORD himself longed for a world in which all would be brothers and sisters under one Father in Heaven. What was an inspired dream for King David was the very reason his descendant came into the world. Nothing less than this mission motivated the Apostle Paul to bring about in every nation the obedience of faith. It is this very obedience that enabled anyone in the crowd to recognize that they were listening to someone greater than any Prophet or Wiseman.
While dealing with the crowd that followed him the Lord Jesus was not particularly politically correct, as we would understand it today. In today’s gospel he calls the whole generation an “evil generation.” They are evil, he explains because they seek a sign, an irrefutable sign. They longed for certitude and security, rather than wisdom and prophecy. The queen of the pagans to the south of Israel had enough wisdom to seek out the man who had greater wisdom than anyone. She endangered herself by traveling many miles to converse with Solomon. Even the Ninevites were willing to take the word of a prophet from among their enemies. Perhaps they listened to Jonah because he, too, had quite a dangerous journey. Indeed, it is the faith of these pagans that reveal the wondrous activity of God in the hearts of all people. Yet, all through the Gospel of Saint Luke the one greater than Jonah or Solomon is rejected and condemned by his own generation of Israelites. Have we acted so differently? Are we wise enough to accept the sign of the cross for what it is? Are we inspired by the prophecy of the one greater than Jonah, the one by whom every land and nation is summoned into the Kingdom of God.