Commentary on Luke 11:29-32
Jesus had just said (last Saturday's reading) that "Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it". Now, with large crowds pressing around him, he throws out a warning which indicates that not many are hearing the word in the sense of accepting and following it. "This is an evil generation," he says. Why? Because it keeps asking for a sign, by which Jesus can prove his credentials. Today he says the only sign they will be given is the sign of Jonah. Jonah was a sign from God to the people of Nineveh, a pagan city which heard his message, repented and was reconciled to God. Jesus too comes on a mission from God ("as the Father has sent me") and he will find a hearing – not from many of his own people, but from Gentiles. So, Jesus says, the "queen of the south", will stand in judgement on the present generation for she, a Gentile outsider, came from a long distance to listen to the wisdom of Solomon. But the Jesus who faces this generation is far greater than Solomon. The "queen of the south" is the queen of Sheba, whose visit to Solomon is recorded in 1 Kings 10:1-10. Similarly, the people of Nineveh, the great pagan and wicked city, will stand in judgement over the present generation, because they repented at the message of Jonah. But Jesus is greater than Jonah and they refuse to listen to him. There is always a danger that we take our faith for granted. Worse, we may even feel we are in a superior and safer position than others not of our faith or denomination. The fact that we carry the name ‘Catholic' is not enough. Baptism and the reception of the other sacraments is not by itself a guarantee of our salvation. What counts is that we hear, understand, accept and assimilate the word of Jesus and carry it out at every moment of our lives.