MONDAY, SIXTEENTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Ex 14:5-18; Ex 15:1-6; Mt 12:38-42
ASKING FOR SIGNS IS A SIGN OF FEAR
Jesus’ instructions in today’s gospel seem harsh. “Anyone who prefers father or mother to me Today’s Gospel begins with another verbal attack by some of the scribes and Pharisees. This time they are pressing Jesus for a sign. The reason for this request was not because they wanted to believe that he was who he said he was, but because they feared losing the authoritative status as religious and spiritual leaders in the minds and hearts of the people. Thus, they were bent on proving Jesus wrong and themselves right.
You could hear hints of this fear in their voices. ‘This imposter Jesus needs to prove himself! He needs to perform signs like the God of Exodus! Unless he shows us some sign of awesome power, we cannot trust him. And yet we are also scared of his power, a power we don’t understand, can’t control and can’t intimidate. People who defiantly follow him reject us for sure. We are thrown down by his power.’
We can just visualize the fear imprinted on the faces of the Israelites in the first reading, as Pharaoh’s chariots bear down on them. God’s chosen people are about to be annihilated on the edge of the Red Sea. The oppressors will once again crush the oppressed. The Israelites begin crying to the Lord. The ten plagues were not enough to prove his love for them. Their fear prompted them to plead for more signs.
Is fear the reason for my worship, the impulse that urges me to pray, the motive behind my fascination and search for ‘miraculous’ people and places? When I go before the Lord, am I mostly asking, or surrendering? When things go wrong, when life takes a sudden turn for the worse, when difficulties abound, am I easily moved to anxiety, discouragement and despair? Have I been more troubled and afraid during these months of the pandemic or calm and hopeful? What more does God need to do to prove that he loves you, knows what’s best for you and is taking care of you?
Response: I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously.
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