- Document: Holy Scripture Readings
1.1. First Reading: The Book of the prophet Jonah 3:1-10
1.2. Gospel Reading: The Gospel of St Luke 11:29-32
1.3. Simple Comment: Jonah’s preaching about Yahweh’s warning of destruction on the city of Nineveh is positively received and responded to by the citizens with self-reckoning of faults. They repented and turned back to God. In Jesus in the Gospel reading we instead find his consternation because all He gets for his effort to bring people to His Father is doubt, questions, mistrust, and even rejection. They love to see more miracles when his purpose is to call them to genuine repentance and effective acceptance of God’s influence over their lives.
- Monument: Bethsaida
2.1. Continuing with the imagery of a clock as I have indicated two days ago, Bethsaida is just about 1 o’clock along the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Zebedee and his sons, James and John, are fishermen from Bethsaida. Even Simon Peter and his brother Andrew were originally from this town. Incidentally beth means house and saida, fishing!
2.2. Bethsaida together with Capernaum and Chorazin form a triangular area (Bethsaida northeast, Capernaum southwest and Chorazin inland west) which Jesus frequented for his preaching and healing ministry. Sadly, like Jesus’ lament in today’s Gospel from Luke, St Matthew reports how Jesus complains about these three laketowns which despite his many miracles refuse to repent from their evil ways; the people refuse to leave their selfish ego-centeredness and thus remain unproductive in God’s vineyard.
- Lenten Reflection
3.1. Fr John Kilgallen’s A New Testament Guide to the Holy Land carries this flipside introduction: “Miracles. Miracles. Jesus’ people wanted miracles and Jesus gave them miracles. But he gave them more besides… The people who followed Jesus wanted a change of their circumstances that would make their lives happier, but what Jesus wanted was to change their hearts so that their lives would be happier!”
3.2. Two thousand years have come and gone; today people still look for miracles without getting the point to the real reason behind these favors: God desires that we effectively turn to Him, that is, recognize His generosity and goodness, believe in His love, and become His goodness and generosity to others as well. Instead, the human tendency is merely to be served and not to serve, merely to receive and not to reciprocate, merely to be fencesitters and not lifegivers. What a pity! What a waste: to possess the same capacity of loving like God’s yet keep it dormant, un-utilized.
- Contemporary Filipino Question: Our elementary and high school students daily pledge before the nation’s flag. Somewhere near the end of this memorized formula, they claim patriotism sa salita at sa gawa. Oh, if we could all simply put into practice this commitment of patriotism, what a brighter and better world we would be! And yet our pledge and commitment stems from deeper motivations – from baptism: we are Christians, that is, followers of Jesus. His life-example is total service, complete self-donation and reliable fidelity. Nasa Diyos ang awa, nasa tao ang gawa! Siya nga? . . . . siya nawa!