A Sign of God

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The WORD in other words (2022) by Fr John O’Mahony SVD — Divine Word Seminary Tagaytay

Wednesday 1st Week of Lent

Let us begin this reflection by looking first at another Gospel passage, Lk 7,18- 28. I’m sure we know it well. From his isolation in prison, John the Baptist sent some disciples to Jesus to ask if he was really the expected Messiah or should they wait for someone else.

As great as he was, John still saw the Messiah in terms of retribution and punishment if there was no repentance. True enough, retribution was a part of the picture, but John seemed to expect this to begin there and then. So why was Jesus delaying? He could not see the whole picture.

Jesus gave the consoling message about what was happening: “The blind recover their sight, cripples walk, lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the poor have the good news preached to them. Blessed is the one who finds no stumbling block in me.” We can be sure that John did get the point and expanded his vision to realize that we cannot put any limits on who the Messiah will be or how he will accomplish his mission.

On the other hand, the Pharisees and others who persistently demanded a sign from Jesus could not be moved. They were imprisoned in a different sort of way, locked up as they were in their “holiness system” of rules and regulations aimed at preserving ritual purity and cleanliness.

They were also figures of power and authority in the community, and they expected that situation would continue and even be enhanced when the Messiah would come. Therefore the sign they kept looking for had to fit into their preexisting mindset.

Jesus should adjust to them rather than they adjust to Jesus. Therefore they could not, or would not, see the meaning of the signs that Jesus gave in his deeds and teaching. Still less could they accept that Jesus himself was the ultimate sign of the new reign of God. That would demand too much from them in terms of change and conversion.

We are now in the first week of Lent, exactly one week since Ash Wednesday. Since then, is anything happening within us?

Is Jesus speaking to us through his deeds and by his teaching? Of course he is, but do we want to hear him? Do we ask for more signs only to try to avoid the signs he is already giving us?

Do we speak too much and expect him to do things our way, or are we becoming more open to listen and more willing to find him in places where we prefer not to go or in people we would rather not meet?

Let us sincerely follow the road to renewal and conversion. The so-called “outsiders” may indeed enter the kingdom before us. No problem with that actually, but we should also want to be there with them, rather than having them judging us.

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