MONDAY 6TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME GOSPEL COMMENTARY:
THE PHARISEES ASK JESUS FOR SIGNS (Mk 8:11–13).
Monday, 6th week of Ordinary Time
THE PHARISEES ASK FOR SIGNS
The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with Jesus, 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.
- 11-12 Jesus expresses the deep sadness he feels at the hard-heartedness of the Pharisees: they remain blind and unbelieving despite the light shining around them and the wonderful things Christ is doing.
- If someone rejects the miracles which God has offered him, it is useless for him to demand new signs, because he asks for them not because he is sincerely seeking the truth but out of ill will: he is trying to tempt God (cf. Lk 16:27.31).
- Requiring new miracles before one will believe, not accepting those already performed in the history of salvation, amounts to asking God to account for himself before a human tribunal (cf. Rom 2:1.11).
- Unfortunately, many people do act like this. But God can only be found if we have an open and humble attitude to him. “I have no need of miracles there are more than enough for me in the Gospel. But I do need to see you fulfilling your duty and responding to grace” (J. Escrivá, The Way, 362).
- 12 The generation to which Jesus refers does not include all the people of his time, but only the Pharisees and their followers (cf. Mk 8:38; 9:19; Mt 11:16), who do not want to see in Jesus’ miracles the sign and guarantee of his messianic mission and dignity: they even attribute his miracles to Satan (Mt 12:28).
- If they do not accept the signs offered to them, they will be given no other sign of the spectacular kind they seek, for the Kingdom of God does not come noisily (Lk 17:20-21) and even if it did they in their twisted way would manage to misinterpret the event (Lk 16:31). According to Mt 12:38-42 and Lk 11:29.32, they are offered yet another sign — the miracle of Jonah, the sign of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ; but not even this remarkable proof will lead the Pharisees to shed their pride.
TOPIC: IS IT OKAY TO ASK SIGNS FROM GOD?
In today’s gospel reading, the Pharisees are asking Jesus for signs if they were to believe that He is the Messiah they have been waiting for. Yesterday, we just saw Jesus feeding 4,000 people with seven loaves and a few fish. Previously, He healed multitudes and yet, the Pharisees demanded more signs. When we are faced with a situation that requires making an important decision in our life we can follow the discernment process that St. Ignatius of Loyola recommends, which includes asking for signs.
READING FROM A SAINT’S WRITING
On the search for wisdom
St. Bernard of Clairvaux
Let us work for the food which does not perish – our salvation. Let us work in the vineyard of the Lord to earn our daily wage in the wisdom which says: Those who work in me will not sin. Christ tells us: The field is the world. Let us work in it and dig up wisdom, its hidden treasure, a treasure we all look for and want to obtain. If you are looking for it, really look. Be converted and come. Converted from what? From your own wilfulness.
“But,” you may say, “if I do not find wisdom in my own will, where shall I find it? My soul eagerly desires it. And I will not be satisfied when I find it, if it is not a generous amount, a full measure, overflowing into my hands.” You are right, for blessed is the man who finds wisdom and is full of prudence.
Look for wisdom while it can still be found. Call for it while it is near. Do you want to know how near it is? The word is near you, in your heart and on your lips, provided that you seek it honestly. Insofar as you find wisdom in your heart, prudence will flow from your lips, but be careful that it flows from and not away from them, or that you do not vomit it up. If you have found wisdom, you have found honey. But do not eat so much that you become too full and bring it all up. Eat so that you are always hungry. Wisdom says: Those who eat me continue to hunger. Do not think you have too much of it, but do not eat too much or you will throw it up. If you do, what you seem to have will be taken away from you, because you gave up searching too soon.
While wisdom is near and while it can be found, look for it and ask for its help. Solomon says: A man who eats too much honey does himself no good; similarly, the man who seeks his own glorification will be crushed by that same renown.Happy is the man who has found wisdom. Even more happy is the man who lives in wisdom, for he perceives its abundance.
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. Man believes with his heart and so he is justified. He confesses with his lips and so he is saved. In the beginning of his speech the just man is his own accuser, next he gives glory to God, and thirdly, if his wisdom extends that far, he edifies his neighbour.
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