MONDAY HOMILY: Seeking Signs
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We are so accustomed to being over-stimulated by the ready access to data and information that our technology gives us, that reflection and contemplation can easily be pushed to the margin of our existence. The need for constant novelty is a sign of an unsettled mind and heart.
SUGAR LAND,TX (Catholic Online) - Everyone is familiar with the story of the man who is trapped on the roof of his house while a flood rages around him. He prays to God for deliverance. A short time later, a small boat motors down the flooded street. The man prefers to stay where he is, confident that God will save him.
Soon after, with the floodwaters continuing to engulf the house, a larger boat offers to evacuate him. Declining once again, the man is sure that he should stay where he is, so sure is he that God will come to his rescue. The rains continue and the water rises.
As the torrent engulfs the house, the man climbs to the top of the chimney. While there, awaiting God's intervention, a rescue helicopter lowers a ladder, but the man declines the help. "I know that God will save me," he says to the pilot.
Inevitably, the man is swept away in the water and drowns. When he appears before God, the man is sorely disappointed. "I had such confidence in you, Lord" he says, "How could you abandon me?"
"Abandon you?" God replies. "What more could you want? I sent you two boats and a helicopter!"
Misdirected expectations can blind us to the working of God in our lives.
In today's Gospel (Luke 11:29-32), Jesus calls his generation an evil one, because "it seeks a sign." Like the man caught in the flood, many of Jesus' contemporaries are not impressed by his words, his miracles, or even his assertion that he has the power to forgive sins. They want something more.
"To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another, 'We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.' For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, 'He is possessed by a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, 'Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners'" (Matthew 11:16-19).
Jesus could just as well have been speaking to our own generation as to his. We are so accustomed to being over-stimulated by the ready access to data and information that our technology gives us, that reflection and contemplation can easily be pushed to the margin of our existence. The need for constant novelty is a sign of an unsettled mind and heart.
If we neglect to ponder our life and its circumstances, we will be unlikely to discover the subtleties of God's activity in our souls.
Jesus had already given many signs attesting to his Messiahship. He promises one more, "the sign of Jonah." Jesus is referring not only to his Passion, Death and Resurrection - symbolized by Jonah's three-day adventure in whaling - but also to his central message, "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15).
In a way, it is natural to want signs to verify our convictions. However, the signs that God sends may not be what we expect. Perhaps what we really need is the capacity to ponder our life in the presence of God - to pray - in order to discover how the Lord wants to lead us.
Fr. Stephen B. Reynolds is the Pastor of St. Theresa Catholic Church in Sugar Land, Texas. You are invited to visit them on the Web at: www.SugarLandCatholic.com.
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