Wednesday of the 1st Week of Lent
The Demand for a Sign
One day I was in a bookstore and planning to buy the new book of Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD entitled Just a Moment. As I was scanning the book of Fr. Orbos, another book caught my attention. The title of the book was Signs and Wonders. I browsed it, read some pages and found out that some chapters dealt with some of the miracles performed by Jesus Christ.
In today’s gospel the religious leaders demand a sign from Jesus. The Jews are characterized as people who demand signs from God’s messengers to authenticate their claims. When they demand Jesus to give evidence for His claims He says that there is no need because He is God’s sign, that is, His very own person and presence to them. Jesus is the great sign of the Father’s love and mercy. He goes around showing people God’s generous love. Jesus confirms this with the many miracles He performs in preparation for the greatest sign of all, His resurrection on the third day but still they do not believe in Him. They refuse to put their trust in Him and in His word. For them Jesus is an ordinary sign. They want something spectacular and extraordinary. They want something grand and glorious. Actually, they are used to ask signs from God. Like for example, Jonah was God’s sign and his message was God’s message for the Ninevites. The Ninevites recognized God’s warning when Jonah spoke to them and they repented. Another one was the Queen of Sheba. And she recognized God’s wisdom in Solomon. Sad to say, the religious leaders in Jesus’ time are not contented to accept the Sign, Jesus Himself, right before their eyes. They have already rejected the message of John the Baptist and now they are going to accept Jesus as God’s Anointed One (Messiah), for them that cannot be. So, they reject Jesus and His message and fail to heed it.
But many times we can be like the Pharisees or more than them. Christ crosses our path and begins to make His presence felt in our lives but most of the times we ignore Him. Maybe because we don’t reach yet full maturity in our faith. This immaturity is shown many times in our doubt, lack of spiritual generosity or our desire that God meet our standards of proof. So often we would have Christ stoop to our way of thinking, feeling and acting, instead of raising us up in His own way. But if we have mature faith in Him then we may be able to live our faith actively and this faith naturally leads us to a radical change of heart, attitudes and behavior.
We like also fortunetelling, superstitious beliefs, palm reading, horoscopes, feng shui and others to determine our future.
Jesus has done enough works and signs in our Christian lives today that make us capable of seeing God’s love and mercy in us. One of these is the Eucharist as the greatest sign of Jesus’ abiding presence in us. Pope Benedict XVI in his Letter on the Occasion of the 24th Italian Eucharistic Congress (May 13, 2005) said: “In the bread and in the wine which in Holy Mass become the Body and Blood of the Lord, may the Christian people find nourishment and sustenance to travel on the path towards sanctity, the universal vocation of all the baptized.”
And also if we are truly touched by Jesus we cannot just be routine in our faith; can’t afford to miss a Sunday Mass; and continually nourished by God’s word and kept it; but above all, our love for the Lord is a fire in our souls that is contagious. Pope John Paul II writes in Novo Millennio Inuente that God calls believers to a renewed missionary zeal that, is to proclaim Christ by word and witness of life in every circumstance and situation, in every social, cultural and political context.
Let us reflect these words from Jesus: “Anyone who sees me sees the Father also.”