Catholic Mass Readings and Reflection February 21, 2024


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R/. A broken and humbled heart, O God you will not spurn.

V/. Glory and praise to you, O Christ

R/. Glory and praise to you, O Christ

V/. Even now, declares the Lord, return to me with all your heart, for I am gracious and merciful.

R/. Glory and praise to you, O Christ.

At that time: When the crowds were increasing, Jesus began to say, “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

1.      In today’s gospel, Jesus is very strong in his rebuke of the people of his time. He says, “This generation is an evil generation”. He also makes the reason explicit. It is because they seek signs to believe in God’s power working through Jesus.

2.       In fact, there may not be anything wrong with seeking signs. And many times, we too seek signs. But the problem is not the lack of them. They are always there but people are not ready to recognize and accept them. And even if they see them, they are not ready to follow what they signify.

3.       Besides, the problem was also the purpose and the intention with which they wanted the signs. It is not to confirm their faith, or to be assured and strengthened. Rather, it was a pretext, an excuse not to believe Jesus. It was an “evasive” mechanism.

4.       There were plenty of signs all through their history. God performed numberless signs in the form of mighty works and wonders during their slavery, exile, and sojourns. Again and again, numerous encounters and events confirmed to them God’s protection, care, guidance, and empowerment. The reference to the prophet Jonah and his mission is itself a sign of repentance and God’s mercy.

5.       Not only in their past history but in their present time itself, in the person and mission of Jesus himself, there were many signs through his preaching, teaching, and healing. His life and mission are themselves ample signs and testimonies of God’s love, mercy, and compassion. They were meant to arouse repentance in the people and lead them to conversion.

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