Jonah 3:1-10
Luke 11:29-32


Signs, we are surrounded by them. They help us navigate and understand the world in which we live. They communicate messages in so many ways.

As a sacramental Co-Ordinator and Religious education teacher, I focused heavily on signs as a means of conveying some divine teaching from God in order to gain a deeper understanding of how he communicates and relates with us.

Both the first reading and the second reading today speak of a particular sign from God. Both refer to Jonah, a prophet and a sign to the Ninevites. In the Gospel, Jesus says, “No sign will be given to this generation except the sign of Jonah.”

In the Old Testament, God manifests himself through signs that deliver his people from oppression and others a warning showing his approval/ disapproval. And so, signs spoke of his judgement, and other signs spoke and pointed to sacred time in the course of salvation history.

Irrespective of the purpose of the sign, they all have something in common. Each sign is a revelation of the being of God. These signs were a pedagogy, an intentional method God used to teach his people something about himself. The most important learning of all was to come to know Him and rely solely on Him. The signs were never imposed on people, but they were a way of acknowledging Him as the source of life; therefore, their faith in him showed their trust in his promise /covenants.

The connection between the two readings is the sign of Jonah. Jonah is the means by which God communicated to the Ninevites – Jonah and words he spoke the sign. Jonah’s message was about God’s judgement. Simple!  They heard his message, and they repented. There can be no mistake about it, the message is about their faith and trust in what Jonah was asking them to do. The response resulted in a chain reaction throughout the whole countryside – it got to the King, and he disrobed and fasted and called on the whole kingdom to do the same. For the king himself to do this and ask his subjects to do the same demonstrates a true act of humility.

From the King and the people, we see that a change of heart was a tremendous leap of faith. We can also say that the King and his subjects took a gamble in the sense that in listening to Jonah and undergoing a change of heart, they hoped that God would relent and not punish them.

A change of heart is required for humility to occur. To put the other before self. And in this case, it is faith in God. From the people of Nineveh, we see that this process is both pervasive and faith-motivated. That a change of heart involves self-denial and is ultimately about God. 

In the Gospel reading, Jesus is the living sign, reminding his listeners that “No sign will be given to this generation except the sign of Jonah.”

This is why Jesus speaks of being meek in the Beatitudes. A change of heart is dependent on us knowing that we have no other hope if God does not move and come to us first. Signs are invitations from God that evoke a response from us.

Michael Schiano has been a member of St. Brigid’s parish since 1990. As a parish member, he has served on the Parish Pastoral Council, Liturgy Committee, and Bereavement Team and is a member of the Passionist Companions. He has been an educator in the Archdiocese and has held positions in middle management and executive leadership positions. He currently works in Aged Care in the roles of Pastoral Care Co-Ordinator at Brigidine House, Randwick; St. Anne’s Hunters Hill; and Chaplaincy, Pastoral Care Officer at Calvary Ryde.