Some teachers of the Law and some Pharisees spoke up, «Teacher, we want to see a sign from you». Jesus answered them, «An evil and unfaithful people want a sign, but no sign will be given them except the sign of the prophet Jonah. In the same way that Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of the monster fish, so will the Son of Man spend three days and three nights in the depths of the earth. At the judgment, the people of Niniveh will rise with this generation and condemn it, because they reformed their lives at the preaching of Jonah, and here there is greater than Jonah. At the judgment, the Queen of the South will stand up and condemn you. She came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and here there is greater than Solomon».
We all look for the signs, which are palpable, visible or sensible and if we can get it from heaven, all the better. For those who believe in this God of goodness and generosity, there will be no lack of signs, for life itself is a sign from heaven. It is not the external signs that give us faith, as many of us believe. On the contrary, faith helps us to discover the signs that God gives us daily, since faith itself is a free gift from the Holy Spirit and not an intellectual discovery.
When we are confronted by a painful or miserable event, we must know how to put everything before this God, because everything is possible for God. Nothing is beyond His limit. Let us not look for signs outside of ourselves on daily basis, but rather discover the signs that God has already given us in history, in our salvation history, a part of it we have in our first reading. Let us not be afraid to plunge into the desert or into the darkness of life, into an unknown terrain where God leads us, for it is a sacred place, a place of divine encounter, a dwelling chosen by God, so that we may discover the depth of our faith and the loving kindness of our God.
Action of the day: Be grateful.
Daily Quote from the Early Church Fathers:
The stumbling block of the cross,
from an anonymous early Christian teacher
"What is the sign of Jonah? The stumbling block of the cross. So it is not the disputers of knowledge who will be saved but those who believe true teaching. For the cross of Christ is indeed a stumbling block to those who dispute knowledge but salvation to those who believe. Paul testifies to this: 'But we, for our part, preach the crucified Christ - to the Jews indeed a stumbling block and to the Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God' (1 Corinthians 1:23-24). Why do the Jews seek signs and the Greeks seek wisdom? God pointed to the sign of the stumbling block of the cross to both the Jews and the Greeks. Thus those who wish to find Christ not through faith but through wisdom will perish on the stumbling block of foolishness. Those who wish to know the Son of God not through faith but through a demonstration of signs will remain trapped in their disbelief, falling on the stumbling block of his death. It is no small wonder that the Jews, considering the death of Christ, thought he was merely a man, when even Christians - as they purport to be but really are not - because of his death are reluctant to declare the only begotten, the crucified, as incomparable majesty. (excerpt from INCOMPLETE WORK ON MATTHEW, HOMILY 30)
«Teacher, we want to see a sign from you»
Fr. Joel PIRES Teixeira
Today, Jesus is tested by 'some teachers of the law and Pharisees' (Mt 12:38; cf. Mc 10; 12), who feel threatened by his person, not because of reasons of faith, but of power. Fearing to lose their influence, they seek to discredit Jesus, by needling Him. These "some" can be quite often ourselves, when we are led by our selfishness and individual interests. Or, just as well, when we look at the Church as a merely human reality and not as a project of God’s love for each one of us.
Jesus’ answer is sharp: «but none will be given» (cf. Mt 12:39), not by fear, but to emphasize and remind them that the "signs" are the relationship of communication and love between God and humanity; it is not an association of interests and individual powers. Jesus evokes that there are many signs given by God; and it is not by challenging or blackmailing Him that He can be reached.
Jesus is the greatest signal. On this day the Word is an invitation for each one of us to humbly understand that only a converted heart turned towards God, can receive, interpret, and see this sign which is Jesus. Humility is the reality that not only brings us closer to God, but also to humanity. Through humility we acknowledge our limitations and virtues, but mostly we see our neighbors as brothers and God as our Father.
As Pope Francis reminded us, "The Lord is patient with us! He never tires of starting over again each time we fall ". That is why, despite our faults and incitements, the Lord welcomes us with open arms to start all over again. Let us, therefore, try to accomplish that in our life, and particularly today, this Word becomes a reality in us. The joy of the Christian is to be recognized by the love that is seen in his life, love that springs from Jesus.