The sign of Jonah
This generation is an evil generation;
it seeks a sign,
but no sign will be given it,
except the sign of Jonah.
Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites,
so will the Son of Man be to this generation.
What is “the sign of Jonah”? In the parallel to this passage in the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, our Lord says that it is “Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.” (Matthew 12:40)
The fact that our Lord does not give this explanation in the Lucan passage reminds us that Jonah may be a symbol in more ways than one.
How else was Jonah a sign? He proclaimed simply a message that had a powerful effect to led to repentance.
Jonah began his journey through the city,
and had gone but a single day's walk announcing,
"Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed,"
when the people of Nineveh believed God;
they proclaimed a fast
and all of them, great and small,
put on sackcloth.
Christ too simply proclaimed the Kingdom of God, with even more powerful effect: Jonah converted thousands; Christ has won the hearts of billions and took away the sins of the world.
The power of true repentance is a sign of Jonah.
And of course, even in the time of Jonah as it is in our own time, the power of true repentance is the grace of Christ, the eternal Son of the Father.
May we be simple in our proclamation of the truth that comes from God.
By the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, may we and all who witness our words and deeds repent and come ever closer to God.