Send Us a Sign

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Monday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Mark 8:11-13
 
The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with Jesus, seeking from him a sign from Heaven to test him. He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” Then he left them, got into the boat again, and went off to the other shore.
 
Opening Prayer: Heavenly Father, I come before you on this day seeking to know you, serve you, and love you. Strengthen my faith and open my eyes to see the many ways you reveal yourself to me. 
 
Encountering Christ:

  1. Arguing with God: The Pharisees had spent their entire lives studying the word of God in the Old Testament, yet they failed to recognize Jesus when he was right there in front of them. This is one of many accounts where a group of Pharisees approached Jesus to argue with him, test him, and trip him up. We know they were threatened by his popularity and perhaps they were blinded by their own hubris and sense of self-importance. How ironic that they were demanding a sign from Heaven to test God himself. Of course, we can fall into the same temptation–seeking signs–especially during a time of emotional upheaval when our trust has been shaken. But Our Lord has compassion on us when we ask with sincerity, trying to understand our circumstances and deepen our faith. He also invites us to proclaim, “Thy will be done,” whether or not he sends us the sign we seek.
  2. The Depth of His Spirit: How weary Jesus seemed in this Gospel passage. We can imagine him frustrated and saddened by their hardheadedness. He saw each Pharisee as a beloved child, created in the image and likeness of God, and blessed with the knowledge, wisdom, and tradition of the Jewish faith. Yet, despite their many spiritual advantages, they petulantly argued with him and demanded he prove himself over and over again. Here he had just miraculously cured the deaf and blind (Mark 7:31-37), and yet they were demanding another sign. In our life, it doesn’t hurt to ask for a sign, but our own sign-seeking must always be grounded in faith and humility—full of hope, and never presumption or despair. 
  3. He Left Them: We are assured in John 3:16 that God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” However, Jesus, fully divine, was also fully human. He never stopped loving the men who badgered him, but he did become frustrated. Why did he leave them? Presumably he realized that they were not truly seeking a sign—they were only looking to make him appear weak and foolish. Jesus left and went to another shore. This is a lesson for us! Jesus will never stop loving us, but he will not force us to accept him or to build a relationship with him. He is a gentleman. We must invite him into our lives and hearts, and give him our love and attention in prayer.

Conversation with Christ: Jesus, open my heart. Help my moments of unbelief. May I live today and every day focused on loving you more deeply and serving you according to your will. I do not want to presume your blessing, nor fall into despair having lost all hope in you. Only by your grace can I come to you grounded in humility, ready to accept your will.
 
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pray the prayer from Mark 9:24: “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!” every time I feel overwhelmed or fearful.
 
For Further Reflection: Daily Reflection by Fr. Libby.
 
Cathy Stamper lives with her husband Mike in Maryland. They have been partners in marriage, business, and parenthood for over thirty-one years. They are grateful for their five young adult children: Nick, Brian, Greg, Kevin, and Cate, and for their large extended circle of family and friends. Cathy is a lay member of Regnum Christi in Annapolis, Maryland.

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