The Gospel according to 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: Lord, I come to you today with my empty hands. I need everything from you! I need your love, your guidance, your perseverance. Help me in these trying times to be a light for others!
Encountering Christ: It is in our culture and our way of life to have signs and symbols. All of us are trained to look and follow these signs. For example, most of us, if we don’t have street signs then we would get lost; or imagine what traffic would be like if there were no STOP signs? We also look for signs of love and compassion with our family, friends and even strangers. We look for signs of illness, (especially today), so if you are at the supermarket and some coughs or sneezes …. we automatically think they’re sick with COVID. Signs and symbols are the basis of our culture. A symbol is an object, word, or action that stands for something else with no natural relationship that is culturally defined. Everything one does throughout their life is based and organized through cultural symbolism. Cultural symbols can also be religious or spiritual, or they can represent the ideology or philosophy of a culture’s language, values and traditions. Cultural symbols include signs, emblems, hand gestures, hugs, kisses on the cheek, flags, animals and much more.
In my younger years, I recall making deals with God. “God, if you allow XXXX, then I will YYYY.” Or I think many of us have said, “Jesus, please give me a sign, so I can make a decision”. But if we are disciples of Faith and Truly Believe in Jesus’ mission, then why do we need a sign? All we have to do is Pray; Believe and Trust. Simple right … maybe not. It may not be the outcome that you would have anticipated or liked, or it didn’t happen in your prescribed time, but it happened in God’s time and in God’s way. “Thy Will be done” … right?! We pray it every day.
In today’s scripture, the Pharisee were asking Jesus yet, for ANOTHER sign. When I read this, all I could think of, if Jesus was asked this in today’s world, Jesus would roll his eyes and say “OMG (Oh My God)”! In today’s culture, we have a tendency to ask but rarely give. Think about it! Imagine God asking YOU for signs. Imagine Him asking You to do something for Him. Imagine God trying to make deals with YOU, and YOU won’t answer. Imagine what He is probably asking YOU to do? The Lenten season is here in two days, what does God want you to do? Step outside your norm and do something extra challenging this year. Yes, it’s hard to give up things you enjoy but is it really that hard if you do it every year? Click on this link for some ideas you can “do” (not just ‘give up”) for Lent. CLICK HERE
Jesus had performed many, many miracles and probably more than we know about. But even after all of that, the Pharisees came to argue with Jesus and demanded a sign from Heaven. The response of Jesus is quite unique. “He sighed from the depth of his spirit…” This sigh was an expression of His holy sorrow over the hardness of hearts of the Pharisees. If they had the eyes of faith, they would have no need for yet another miracle. And if Jesus would have performed a “sign from heaven” for them, even that would not have helped them. And so, Jesus does the only thing He can—He sighed (hence, rolling the eyes).
At times, this type of reaction is the only good one. We may all face situations in life where others confront us with harshness and stubbornness. When this happens, we will be tempted to argue with them, condemn them, try to convince them we are right, and the like. But sometimes one of the holiest reactions we can have to the hardness of our heart of another is to experience a deep and holy sorrow. We must also “sigh” from the depths of our spirits. Our hearts need to be softened and your deep sorrow, shared with compassion, may be one of the only responses that can help make a difference especially during Lent.
Closing Prayer: Lord, I need signs! I need to know that you are with me and that your loving providence is guiding my life. And I know that you provide signs! Please give me the grace to recognize your signs. I don’t need spectacular ones—just simple ones that point me in the direction of heaven.
Action of the Day: I will find a quiet place in my yard, home, car etc. and I will look for signs by using my sense of hearing (listening to God) and sight (look for the signs). What is God telling you?