daily biblical sermons

Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Monday, 16th Week of the Year, July 21, 2014
Mic. 6:1-4, 6-8, Ps. 49, Matt. 12:38-42

Scripture quotations are from the RSV unless otherwise noted.

"Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, ‘Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.' But he answered them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign; but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah'" (Matt. 12:38-39).

Although Jesus had cured many people and expelled demons from many, yet the scribes and Pharisees still ask for a sign, a great miracle, to prove that he really does come from God and has the power to forgive sins. In other words, this is simply another way of refusing to believe in him. So Jesus says to them that the men of Nineveh were better than them, for they believed Jonah and repented, and yet "Behold, something greater than Jonah is here" (Matt. 12:41). Even though Jesus is greater than Jonah, they refuse to believe in him.

Do we have the same problem today? Do we really believe in Jesus? Yes, we believe that he existed, that he was the Son of God, the Messiah, that he cured the sick, that he died on a cross and rose from the dead. But how many believe that he redeemed us? How many believe that "Christ died for our sins" (1 Cor. 15:3)? How many today believe that his death on the cross propitiated for and expiated our sins? How many believe that he is the one "whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed" (Rom. 3:25 NKJV), and so is now, in the death of his Son, making just propitiation for and expiation of them, a death that makes adequate reparation and satisfaction for them? I believe that the faith of many today is very weak in this, and that many refuse to believe that Christ redeemed us from our sins by his death on the cross.

Instead, many only believe that Christ's death shows us how much God loves us, and that we are to imitate this love, and that it is nothing more than that. Many have lost faith that Christ is our redeemer.

Many no longer believe that "in him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses" (Eph. 1:7), that "the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). They do not believe that "we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isa. 53:6), that "he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed" (Isa. 53:5).

That is, many no longer believe in the redemption through the death of Christ on the cross. They do not believe that "he himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness" (1 Pet. 2:24). They do not believe that he bore the law's curse upon us for our sins instead of us bearing it, that he substituted for us and bore it for us, that "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us" (Gal. 3:13). The curse of the law is death for our sins, and Christ bore it for us. How many still believe that the reparation and satisfaction that Christ made for our sins on the cross gives us relief from the pain of guilt when we believe in him and confess our sins?

In other words, how many no longer believe in the very heart of the gospel, the good news of God's salvation in Jesus Christ? And are we surprised that the Church is falling apart today with no more vocations to the priesthood and religious life? Indeed, "the men of Nineveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here" (Matt. 12:41).


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