On the Third Day!

Matthew 12:39-40
An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign; but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

The creed (and Scripture) tells us that Jesus rose “on the third day.”  They also insist that this was “in fulfillment of the Scripture.”  It’s odd when you think about it.  Does the Creed mean that the Resurrection fulfilled the Scripture or does it mean the Resurrection on the third day fulfilled the Scripture?  What is so significant about the third day?  Why didn’t Jesus rise from the dead a few minutes after He had been confirmed dead?  Or the next day?  Or a week later?  Today’s verse suggests the reason: Jesus resurrection on the third day was a sign to the hard of heart just as Jonah’s was.  Indeed, like Jonah’s adventure it was a sign to the hard of heart that they were hard of heart.  Today, ask the Risen Christ to soften any hard places in your heart.

Mark Shea


Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog and regularly blogs for National Catholic Register. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.

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