Then, some teachers of the law and some Pharisees spoke up, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” Jesus answered them, “An evil and unfaithful people want a sign; but no sign will be given, them except the sign of the prophet Jonah. In the same way, as Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of Man spend three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
At the judgment, the people of Nineveh will rise with this generation, and condemn it; because they reformed their lives at the preaching of Jonah, and here, there is greater than Jonah. At the judgment, the Queen of the South will stand up and condemn you. She came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and here, there is greater than Solomon.
Today’s first reading illustrates powerfully the sort of general misunderstanding existing in too many Christians’ mind about what exactly God expects of them.
In a dramatic dialogue between Yahweh and his people, the prophet Micah presents Yahweh’s expectations of his people, given the fact that it was Yahweh who delivered them from a state of slavery and brought them to freedom under the leadership of Moses. The people respond by offering to perform liturgical functions! But that is the wrong answer. What God expects of his people is not ritual celebrations but simply loving God (“walk humbly with your God”) and neighbor (“do justice, love mercy”).
The same misunderstanding exists in the mind of too many Christians. These Christians think that by far the most important thing they can do for God is to attend Mass regularly. But where in the gospels did Jesus ever teach that one’s first duty toward God is to attend the temple? What Jesus insisted on was the love of neighbor—on which, by the way, we will be judged (cf. Parable of the Last judgment–Mt 25:31-46).
God has not changed. He is pure love. He expects us to become like him.
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