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A team of 200 priests comment on daily Gospel

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Liturgical day: Monday 6th inOrdinary Time

1st Reading (Gen 4:1-15.25): The man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, «I have produced a man with the help of the Lord». Next she bore his brother Abel. Abel became a keeper of flocks, and Cain a tiller of the soil. In the course of time Cain brought an offering to the Lord from the fruit of the soil, while Abel, for his part, brought one of the best firstlings of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not. Cain greatly resented this and was crestfallen. So the Lord said to Cain: «Why are you so resentful and crestfallen? If you do well, you can hold up your head; but if not, sin is a demon lurking at the door: his urge is toward you, yet you can be his master».

Cain said to his brother Abel, «Let us go out in the field». When they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord asked Cain, «Where is your brother Abel?». He answered, «I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?». The Lord then said: «What have you done! Listen: your brother’s blood cries out to me from the soil! Therefore you shall be banned from the soil that opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. If you till the soil, it shall no longer give you its produce. You shall become a restless wanderer on the earth».

Cain said to the Lord: «My punishment is too great to bear. Since you have now banished me from the soil, and I must avoid your presence and become a restless wanderer on the earth, anyone may kill me at sight». «Not so!», the Lord said to him. «If anyone kills Cain, Cain shall be avenged sevenfold». So the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest anyone should kill him at sight. Adam again had relations with his wife, and she gave birth to a son whom she called Seth. «God has granted me more offspring in place of Abel», she said, «because Cain slew him».
Responsorial Psalm: 49
R/. Offer to God a sacrifice of praise.
God the Lord has spoken and summoned the earth, from the rising of the sun to its setting. «Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you, for your burnt offerings are before me always».

«Why do you recite my statutes, and profess my covenant with your mouth though you hate discipline and cast my words behind you?».

«You sit speaking against your brother; against your mother’s son you spread rumors. When you do these things, shall I be deaf to it? Or do you think that I am like yourself? I will correct you by drawing them up before your eyes».
Verscicle before the Gospel (Jn 14:6): Alleluia. I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord; no one comes to the Father except through me. Alleluia.

Gospel text (Mk 8,11-13): The Pharisees came and started to argue with Jesus. Hoping to embarrass him, they asked for some heavenly sign. Then his spirit was moved. He gave a deep sigh and said, «Why do the people of this present time ask for a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this people». Then he left them, got into the boat again and went to the other side of the lake.

«Truly, I say to you, no sign shall be given»

Fr. Jordi POU i Sabater
(Sant Jordi Desvalls, Girona, Spain)

Today, it looks like the Gospel does not say too much about Jesus or about us. «Why do the people of this present time ask for a sign?» (Mk 8:12). Commenting on this episode of Jesus' life, Pope John Paul II says: «Jesus invites us to discern between the words and the deeds testimony of (or a “sign of”) the arrival of God's Kingdom». It seems the Pharisees questioning Jesus are lacking the capacity or the will to discern that sign which —in fact— is the entire manifestation, deeds and words, of the Lord.

Nowadays, Jesus is also asked for some heavenly signs: that He let us see his presence in our world or that He tells us in a clear cut manner how we are to behave. The Roman Pontiff makes us see that Jesus' negative to give a sign to the Jews —and, consequently, to us, too— is due to the fact He wants to change the «world logics, oriented to look for signs confirming man's desire of assertiveness and power». The Pharisees did not want just any sign, but one showing Jesus as the Messiah they wanted. They were not waiting for the Messiah coming to save them, but for the Messiah who was to give them the certainty they were doing things the right way.

In short, when the Jews in Jesus' time, or to-day's Christians, ask —one way or another— for a sign, what we are actually asking for, is for God to act according to our own way, that which we think is better and which also stands by our way of thinking. But God, who is omniscient and omnipotent (this is why in The Lord's Prayer we say “your will be done”), has His own ways which, more often than not, we find it difficult to understand. But He, who allows us to find him when we are truly looking for him, if we beg him to enlighten us, He will give us to understand which are his ways and how we can, today, distinguish his signs.