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(Part 34)



February 25, 2015

Today’s readings:
Jonah 3:1-10
Psalm 51:3-19
Luke 11:29-32

“This generation is an evil generation” (Lk 11:29b). Indeed it is. Today the world is so steeped in evil. There is an explosion of sexual licentiousness. There is massive loss of faith, with massive numbers of Catholics turning away from Christ and the Church. There is apostasy, with rejection of the faith and even assaulting the faith. There is the massive onslaught of the culture of death, aiming to destroy family and life. There is the oppression and persecution of Christians, with Christians being slaughtered in the Middle East and Christians being marginalized and discriminated against in the western world.

Modernism has come into the churches. The culture of death has been embraced. Most of the Protestant Churches are already lost. But the enemy has also infiltrated the one, true, holy and apostolic Church, the Roman Catholic Church. Such infiltration has gone to high levels in the Church hierarchy. There are bishops and cardinals who seek tolerance and even “acceptance” of sin in the form of cohabitation, divorce and remarriage, and same-sex unions.

Why did Jesus come into the world? To save humankind from sin and Satan, to win salvation for us. He accomplished that by dying on the cross and rising from the dead. Thus are we saved. But such salvation is not automatic. We need to respond to Jesus’ saving act. This response starts with repentance and putting our faith in Jesus.

It is the same today as then, like in the time of the prophet Jonah. “Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation.” (Lk 11:30). How was it with Jonah?

The inhabitants of Nineveh, just like the world today, were very wicked. God sent Jonah to preach repentance. He had preached just a day, when the people of Nineveh repented (Jon 3:4-5). Even the king repented, and proclaimed repentance for his whole kingdom (Jon 3:6-8). What was the result? “When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out.” (Jon 3:10).

There are several lessons here. One, God is grieved by persistent serious wrongdoing, and at some point will severely punish those who do not turn away from such evil. Two, to reverse this dire situation, our recourse is simply to repent. Three, the preaching of God’s word and God’s truth, with the goal of bringing sinners to repentance, is powerful and effective.

The Church today is searching for ways by which we can reach out to Catholics in the peripheries and how we can bring them back. In particular, we are searching for how we can extend mercy and compassion to those Catholics who are in the peripheries with regard to the whole area of human sexuality. So some bishops and cardinals want to just accept these Catholics, by being nice to them, being welcoming, not being offensive. How? By not talking about their sinful situation but by just accepting them as they are.

That is false mercy. That is not the mercy of God. The mercy of God is always an invitation to repentance. Such repentance of sin is the only way to avoid God’s wrath, and more positively, to experience God’s salvation. “Who knows? God may again repent and turn from his blazing wrath, so that we will not perish.” (Jon 3:9).

What then should be done? First is to recognize sin. “For I know my transgressions; my sin is always before me.” (Ps 51:5). Then what should the Church do? With great mercy and compassion, she should teach the truth of God’s ways, and preach repentance. “I will teach the wicked your ways, that sinners may return to you.” (Ps 51:15).

Here is what mercy and compassion is all about: “Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love; in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions.” (Ps 51:3). God’s mercy and compassion is about leading humankind out of sin, not allowing them to persist in sin, even to be comfortable in their sin.

Our Catholic Church today is searching for how to reach those Catholics in the peripheries with the mercy and compassion of God. And so “it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” (Lk 11:29c). Jesus already gave the key to being in the kingdom of God. It is to repent and believe in the gospel. The gospel or good news can never be about persisting in sin. It is always about turning away from sin.

Today’s generation, as in the time of Nineveh, is an evil generation. To them God sent Jonah. To us God has already sent Jesus. The message of both is the same. It is repentance of sin. Why should any of our Church hierarchy change that basic message? If we do, we will stand condemned. “At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here.” (Lk 11:32).

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