Monday, February 12, 2007

Monday in the 6th Week of Ordinary Time (I)
The Signs before Us

Readings: Genesis 4:1-15, 25; Psalms 50:1 and 8, 16bc-17, 20-21; Mark 8:11-13

There’s a parallel between the two stories in our readings today that may not be so evident at first glance. Most obviously there is in each of them the desire for a sign. The Pharisees demand from Jesus a sign from heaven just as Cain is signed by God with a mark that protects him from violent retaliation.
We can probably all identify with the need for a sign. We read in the newspapers everyday of how fraudsters cheat people by claiming to be someone they are not. And although some of us may still believe that a person’s word is his or her bond, we know that it’s prudent to insist on some written guarantee, something in black and white, some sign of sincerity. Similarly, while we know that we are called to walk by faith and not by sight, we also know what a difference it makes when God graces us with some felt assurance of God’s presence and love for us. So we can probably sympathize with the Pharisees and with Cain. Surely they should not be faulted for their craving for a sign.

That may be so. But perhaps it’s not so much their desire for a sign that should be faulted as much as their obvious blindness to the signs that have already been given them. Cain requires a sign because he fails to recognize God’s providential concern for all creation, a concern that enables God even to hear Abel’s blood crying out… from the ground. The Pharisees demand a sign even though Jesus has been performing many signs and wonders, wowing the crowds with his words of wisdom and works of power. Quite ironically they demand a sign from Him who is the Eternal Sign from heaven of the Father’s love for us. How could they be so blind?

Here we are led to the crux of the problem. Cain kills Abel and then demands some guarantee of God’s protection because his jealousy has blinded him to God’s love for him. Likewise the Pharisees demand from Jesus a sign from heaven because their jealousy and prejudice have blinded them to the sign that is Jesus himself.

In our own search for signs from God, perhaps what we need is first to ask the Lord to purify our hearts and clarify our vision, so that we might recognize the signs that are already before us. After all, as baptized Christians, haven’t we all received and been marked with the sign of the Cross of Christ – the Sign above all other signs?

How might we better recognize the signs of the Father’s love for us today?

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