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Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Ex. 14:5-18 & Mt. 12:38-42

There are some people in this world who are never satisfied. In a sense the Israelites mentioned in today's first reading were like that. After 430 years of slavery in Egypt, God was leading them into freedom. They should have known from His dealings with Pharaoh and the Egyptians what a powerful God He was and how He would look after them. But still they grumbled.

The same can be said of the scribes and Pharisees in the Gospel. After all Jesus had said and done, they were not satisfied. They wanted something more and something different.

We are called to accept God's plan in our lives, and we are called to do so without grumbling but with joy. That joy is the real fruit and trust in God’s power, wisdom and goodness.

Every day in the Mass we place ourselves together with Jesus in God’s hands. As we share in His sacrificial death we should have His sentiment, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” In His turn God the Father gives us the strength to carry out that sentiment as He nourishes us with the Body and Blood of His Son. May we all be well-satisfied with whatever God’s plan is for us.

Despite His many previous miracles the Pharisees and scribes in today's Gospel ask for another sign. But Jesus cites the example of the prophet Jonah and the Queen of Sheba in reply. Jonah was sent by God to warn the people of Nineveh of its imminent destruction but was cast overboard in a great storm and swallowed by a large fish, in the stomach of which he remained for three days and nights. When he preached to the Ninevites they repented of their sin and God did not inflict on them the disaster He had threatened. Jesus speaks of Jonah because his experience foreshadows His death and rising from the tomb on the third day. The story of Jonah should have been an incentive to the scribes and Pharisees to repent but it fell on deaf ears.

The Queen of Sheba had heard about the wisdom of Solomon and came to see for herself whether it was all true. What she saw caused her to praise God for the favour He had shown Solomon. The scribes and the Pharisees stood before Jesus, in whom the fullness of the deity dwells bodily, the One far greater than Jonah and Solomon, and yet they refused to repent and believe in Him.

lmpenitence is an outward sign of a heart that is hard and this Gospel encourages us to ponder again the key theme of repentance. In order to repent we first need to open our hearts to God's great love and mercy revealed so clearly in His Son. As we ponder the mystery of the Incarnation and let the Holy Spirit soften our hearts, then the more we become aware of the offences against God and our need to repent and turn our hearts to Him.

Lord Jesus, let us leave behind our self-sufficiency in all its forms, our pride, our attachment to riches and the other transient things of this world: in short everything that keeps us from repenting of our sins and accepting God's love into our lives.

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