They Repented: will we?

Friends in Christ,
Today Our Lord teaches using symbols, he refers to Jonah. Jonah, who was given up for dead in the belly of a whale for 3 days, is a type, a symbol of Christ who was in the ‘belly of the earth’ for 3 days.   

Our Lord points out that when Jonah preached to the Ninevites, and urged them to repent of their sins, the Ninevites, who were pagans – barbarians really – they repented.  
Now Jonah was only a symbol of the coming Christ, but Jesus’ hearers see the Lord before them in the flesh, and they do not repent. The fathers of the Church[i] say that although they were hearing Wisdom Incarnate, they nevertheless disregarded his signs and miracles.   

Christ also refers to the ‘Queen of the South.’ ‘The queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation and she will condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here.’  
This refers to the Queen of Sheba, who came from Ethiopia to see King Solomon. This Queen was not a Jew or anything, a pagan woman;  yet she recognized greatness when she saw it.  

Jesus is saying, this generation has the True God standing in your midst, yet you are not able to see it. On judgment day, the Queen of Sheba will be among the elect; she, a pagan, will be resurrected, and she will judge you.  

The Queen of Sheba was a Gentile.  For this reason, St. Bede says that she is a symbol of Mother Church; the Church is of the Gentiles, and she seeks the true Wisdom, Christ.  ‘As the Queen of Sheba came from far-away parts of the earth, the Church will be gathered from the whole earth.   

Gregory of Nyssa says that just as she was Queen of the Ethiopians in a far country,  so in the beginning, the Church of the Gentiles was in darkness, and far off from the knowledge of God.   

Of today’s gospel, St. Ambrose says that the mystery of the Church consists of two things: the ignorance of sin, symbolized by the Queen of Sheba, and ceasing to sin, symbolized by the Ninevites who repented.   

We therefore, who know the True God, must recognize our sins, and repent during this time of Lent.   


[i] Quotes from the Aquinas’ Catena Aurea

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