Monday of the Twenty-eighth Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

I think it’s a pretty common experience for people to look for a sign from God. So many comedies have that premise somewhere in the story line. Don’t we all look for signs from God to make sure we’re doing the right thing?

Well, yes, signs are necessary and helpful events in our spiritual journey.  And Jesus was never stingy about giving signs.  After all, he healed the sick, raised the dead, and fed the multitudes.  Who could have possibly missed the signs and wonders he was providing?  The thing was, the people, especially the religious authorities, were cynical and hard of heart, and they soon forgot the wonders he had done.  So they wanted to see Jesus do things they were pretty sure he couldn’t do; in other words, they were asking for a sign not from an attitude of faith, but an attitude of cynicism.

And Jesus had no intention of playing that game.  These people would get no further sign, at least not until the sign of Jonah.  So what did that mean?  Well, as we remember, Jonah was swallowed up in the belly of a big fish for three days, then disgorged on the shores of Nineveh.  Jesus was foreshadowing that, in the same way, he himself would be swallowed up in the grave for three days, then raised to new life.  These cynical people would just have to wait for that great sign, and even then, they certainly wouldn’t believe.

And so, yes, we can ask for a sign.  We can ask God to help us to know we have discerned the right path.  But we always must ask from the perspective of our faith, being open to whatever God shows us, being open to silence if that’s what he gives us, ready to follow him, sign or no sign, wherever we are led.  God is always there, even in our most difficult quandaries, ready to give us confidence by his presence.

And never forget that we have already received the sign of Jonah, and that sign is incredibly good news for all of us!

Monday of the Twenty-eighth Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

I think it’s a pretty common experience for people to look for a sign from God. So many comedies have that premise somewhere in the story line. Don’t we all look for signs from God to make sure we’re doing the right thing?

So signs are necessary and helpful events in our spiritual journey. And Jesus was never stingy about giving signs. After all, he healed the sick, raised the dead, and fed the multitudes. Who could have possibly missed the signs and wonders he was providing? The thing was, the people, especially the religious authorities, were cynical and hard of heart, and they soon forgot the wonders he had done. So they wanted to see Jesus do things they were pretty sure he couldn’t do; in other words, they were asking for a sign not from an attitude of faith, but an attitude of cynicism.

And Jesus had no intention of playing that game. These people would get no further sign, at least not until the sign of Jonah. So what did that mean? Well, as we remember, Jonah was swallowed up in the belly of a big fish for three days, then disgorged on the shores of Nineveh. Jesus was foreshadowing that, in the same way, he himself would be swallowed up in the grave for three days, then raised to new life. These cynical people would just have to wait for that great sign, and even then, well, chances are they wouldn’t believe.

So I think it’s okay for us on occasion to ask for a sign. We can ask God to help us to know we have discerned the right path, or are at least headed in the right direction. But we must always ask from the perspective of our life of faith, being open to whatever God shows us, being open to silence if that’s what he gives us, ready to follow him, sign or no sign, wherever we are led. God is always there, even in our most difficult quandaries, ready to give us confidence by his presence.

And never forget that we have already received the sign of Jonah, and that sign is incredibly good news for all of us!

Monday of the Twenty-eighth Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

I think it’s a pretty common experience for people to look for a sign from God. So many comedies have that premise somewhere in the story line. Don’t we all look for signs from God to make sure we’re doing the right thing?

Well, yes, signs are necessary and helpful events in our spiritual journey.  And Jesus was never stingy about giving signs.  After all, he healed the sick, raised the dead, and fed the multitudes.  Who could have possibly missed the signs and wonders he was providing?  The thing was, the people, especially the religious authorities, were cynical and hard of heart, and they soon forgot the wonders he had done.  So they wanted to see Jesus do things they were pretty sure he couldn’t do; in other words, they were asking for a sign not from an attitude of faith, but an attitude of cynicism.

And Jesus had no intention of playing that game.  These people would get no further sign, at least not until the sign of Jonah.  So what did that mean?  Well, as we remember, Jonah was swallowed up in the belly of a big fish for three days, then disgorged on the shores of Nineveh.  Jesus was foreshadowing that, in the same way, he himself would be swallowed up in the grave for three days, then raised to new life.  These cynical people would just have to wait for that great sign, and even then, they certainly wouldn’t believe.

And so, yes, we can ask for a sign.  We can ask God to help us to know we have discerned the right path.  But we always must ask from the perspective of our faith, being open to whatever God shows us, being open to silence if that’s what he gives us, ready to follow him, sign or no sign, wherever we are led.  God is always there, even in our most difficult quandaries, ready to give us confidence by his presence.

And never forget that we have already received the sign of Jonah, and that sign is incredibly good news for all of us!

Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Today’s readings

At the heart of our practice of prayer has to be trust in God. We don’t – or shouldn’t – need signs to convince us of God’s love and care for us.  But don’t we do that all the time?  Aren’t we just like those Galileans looking for a sign?  We might be hesitant to take a leap of faith that we know God is calling us to make, but are looking for some kind of miracle to get us off our behinds.  We might know that healing in a certain situation will take some time, but we want God to descend, wave a magic wand, and make it all go away.

 

But just as the royal official trusted that Jesus could cure his son, so we too need to trust that God in his goodness will work the best for us, in his time, in his way. Isaiah tells us today that God is about to create a new heavens and a new earth, where there will always be rejoicing and gladness. But how hard is it for us to wait for that new creative act, isn’t it?  We just really want to see that big picture now, please, we want to know what’s on God’s mind and where he’s taking us.  But that’s not how God works is it?

 

It can be hard for us when we look around for blessing and don’t see it happening on our timetable.  We forget, sometimes, that a big part of the grace comes in the journey, even when things are really painful.  The Psalmist says, “O LORD, you brought me up from the nether world; you preserved me from among those going down into the pit.”  Notice how he does not say that God shielded him from going to the nether world.  But the nether world was not the end of the Psalmist’s story.

 

We don’t know where God is taking us today – or any day, for that matter.  We have to trust in our God who longs for our good, just like that royal official.  And we have to believe in the power of God to raise us up, just as he raised his Son from the dead.  We all long to celebrate our Easter Sundays, but our faith tells us that we have to get through our Good Fridays first.

 

Feel free to remind me of this homily on my next Good Friday.

 

Monday of the Twenty-eighth Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

So, what’s the big deal about seeking a sign?  Don’t we all need a sign from God every now and then so that we can be sure we are on the right path?  Otherwise, how are we supposed to know the will of God?

Well, yes, signs are necessary and helpful events in our spiritual journey.  And Jesus was never stingy about giving signs.  After all, he healed the sick, raised the dead, and fed the multitudes.  Who could have possibly missed the signs and wonders he was providing?  The thing was, the people, especially the religious authorities, were cynical and hard of heart, and they soon forgot the wonders he had done.  So they wanted to see Jesus do things they were pretty sure he couldn’t do; in other words, they were asking for a sign not from an attitude of faith, but an attitude of cynicism.

And Jesus had no intention of playing that game.  These people would get no further sign, at least not until the sign of Jonah.  So what did that mean?  Well, as we remember, Jonah was swallowed up in the belly of a big fish for three days, then disgorged on the shores of Nineveh.  Jesus was foreshadowing that, in the same way, he himself would be swallowed up in the grave for three days, then raised to new life.  These cynical people would just have to wait for that great sign, and even then, they certainly wouldn’t believe.

And so, yes, we can ask for a sign.  We can ask God to help us to know we have discerned the right path.  But we always must ask from the perspective of our faith, being open to whatever God shows us, being open to silence if that’s what he gives us, ready to follow him, sign or no sign, wherever we are led.  God is always there, even in our most difficult quandaries, ready to give us confidence by his presence.

And never forget that we have already received the sign of Jonah, and that sign is incredibly good news for all of us!