Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth.
The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here! The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here!
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/</em>approved-translations)
“An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it,” Jesus warns the skeptical scribes and Pharisees. The twelfth chapter of Matthew reveals a Jesus who is growing weary of others’ desire to pin Him down and figure Him out. At every turn, the Pharisees pose questions to probe and test Jesus. They do so not in order to believe, but to ensnare and disprove Him.
But what of those of us who desire to follow Him? Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1964 film The Gospel According to St. Matthew stars Enrique Irazoqui as a brooding, severe, on-the-go Jesus. His stern demeanor and pointed orders leave His disciples, and many of us, wondering whether we have what it takes to follow Him, wherever He may lead.
Our gospel today reminds us that demanding further signs from God misses the point of how God works. Lest we think that Jesus holds His followers to impossible standards of discipleship, today’s first reading from Micah reminds us of something we easily forgot: God does not demand unreasonable signs from us, either. We read, “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow before God most high?” After considering several sacrificial offerings to God, we hear a revealing, and relieving, response: “You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: Only to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
God does not demand that we know everything about Him before we follow Him. In fact, the more we try to neatly ‘figure out’ God, the more mysterious He becomes. God asks simply that we (1) strive to love goodness, and (2) act from that love. At least three times today, when faced with a concrete choice, choose to love the greater good and act on that — even if no one but you and God will ever know. Unlike the scribes and Pharisees, you will not likely be disappointed by what you find.
—Mr. Joseph Simmons, S.J.
Lord, in our lives you have given us signs to guide our decisions, to experience your love, to even connect us with a loved one who has crossed over to eternity. While we may have been convinced of your presence through this communication, the passage of time can make us doubt the occurrence of the sign or it significance. Just like your apostles who wobbled in their faith after magnificent signs of healing, after the Transfiguration, and even after the raising of Lazarus from the dead, don’t let our unbelief diminish your gift of signs.
We pray, Lord, that our faith keeps us open to the signs you place in our lives, and, more importantly, we ask that we be a sign of your gracious love. Help us to model your love particularly when we feel worn down, preoccupied with the urgent tasks, and focused on our concerns.
— The Jesuit Prayer TeamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!