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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Monday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading (Jas 1:1-11): James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes in the dispersion, greetings. Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it. But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, since he is a man of two minds, unstable in all his ways. The brother in lowly circumstances should take pride in high standing, and the rich one in his lowliness, for he will pass away “like the flower of the field”. For the sun comes up with its scorching heat and dries up the grass, its flower droops, and the beauty of its appearance vanishes. So will the rich person fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
Responsorial Psalm: 118
R/. Be kind to me, Lord, and I shall live.
Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I hold to your promise.

You are good and bountiful; teach me your statutes.

It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn your statutes.

The law of your mouth is to me more precious than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

I know, o Lord, that your ordinances are just, and in your faithfulness you have afflicted me.

Let your kindness comfort me according to your promise to your servants.
Versicle 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 forward and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” Then he left them, got into the boat again, and went off to the other shore.

“Amen, I say to you, no sign will 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 does this generation seek a sign?” (Mk 8:12). Commenting on this episode of Jesus' life, Saint John Paul II said: “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' refusal to give a sign to the Jews —and, consequently, to us, too— is due to the fact He wants to change the “world logic, 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 today'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 help us to understand which are His ways and how we can, today, distinguish His signs.

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “There are three ways for wisdom or prudence to abound in you: if you confess your sins, if you give thanks and praise, and if your speech is edifying.” (Saint Bernard)

  • “‘If you are God's Son...’. He is ‘tested’ just as products are tested. The arrogance that would make God an object and impose our laboratory conditions upon him is incapable of finding Him.” (Benedict XVI)

  • “The signs worked by Jesus attest that the Father has sent him. They invite belief in him (…). Despite his evident miracles some people reject Jesus; he is even accused of acting by the power of demons.” (Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Nº 548)