Monday of the 6th Week of the Year

Mk 8:11-13

The Demand for a Sign

OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:

As human beings, every time we encounter events that are beyond human explanation we ask God to give us signs to shed light on these occurrences.  There are certain phenomena that human reason can’t expound or verify. Most of time we insist on these signs to dispel doubts in our hearts and minds.

Sometimes, we fail to understand what God wants us to know in an event because we are not focused on His own revelations. During those trying moments of our family, God showed us His wonders through countless individuals who consoled us in our grief. People went out of their way to sympathize with us even though they could not provide answers to our uncertainties. Various families assisted us to overcome the pain that will take time to heal. Moreover, it was a time that God provided us the strength to move on despite the wounds that keep on reminding us that life in this world is indeed too short.

The Gospel of today is a manifestation that God reveals Himself in different ways. Jesus Himself gave the Pharisees no sign that they will interpret through human knowledge. He provided them an ultimate proof of His Divinity through His resurrection. This is an assurance that God is always with us and He is true to His promise not to leave us in all circumstances of our lives. (Fr. Marlon Ramirez, SVD Bible Diary 2004)

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In times of hopelessness signs of faith are evident. But in times of stability and prosperity we question God’s ways. We want a sign of His power as proof that He is mightier than man.

In the gospel, the Pharisees, instead of striving to make themselves open to God’s revelation, were challenging Jesus to perform something that were please their senses. They were seeking for a sign, hoping Jesus will perform magic. They were waiting for an act that suggests an easy solution to life’s complexities. Yet Jesus’ way is not man’s way. God’s presence is most intense when He seems hidden and so far from us, particularly in moments of humiliation and nothingness. In my weakness, I am very strong, says St. Paul. In our sinfulness, the opportunity for God’s mercy and our conversion is there.

Let us strive to perceive God’s signs among the voiceless, those whom we have rejected and those we see as nuisance in life. In this setting, certainly we see not only signs but also an encounter we with the person of Jesus. (Fr. Martin Mandin, SVD Bible Diary 2007)

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In Semiotics or Semiology, one can learn the meanings of signs. A sign tells us what we already know; otherwise it becomes utterly meaningless and useless. In a given society, to be ignorant of signs is to carry the potential burden of risks, conflict or alienation.

With this vantage point in mind, we can easily identify with Jesus’ reaction to the Pharisees’ demand for a sign from heaven to test Him. Pretending to be ignorant of what they should know about Jesus, they become alienated by Him. They always carry with them the burden of testing, questioning and getting rid of Him. With no single word or argument, Jesus left them. “He got into the boat and went off.”

Jesus in another episode says: “The kingdom of God cannot be observed. No one could say it is here; it is there. No one could be sure it is coming or read this sign of its coming. For behold, the kingdom of God is among you,” (Luke 17:20).

True, we can’t be always looking up to the vast heavens for God. Jesus is among us. God is in Jesus. Jesus is in people.

God can be found too in bending low. We can see God also in the needs of hopeless, helpless people. Suffering and rejection can be signs of heaven too, exactly as what Jesus received from the hands of the Pharisees.

Signs indeed can be sources of conflict and alienation. Sometimes we tend to misread or misjudge people’s intentions and actions.

But one thing for sure that clears all doubts of misjudgment or alienation is the ultimate sign of God’s love in Jesus, bending towards us from the cross in humility and sacrifice. With Jesus bending low we can always look up to see heaven! (Fr. Roland Aquino, SVD Bible Diary 2008)

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  • I heard others saying like this: “Sus! Father oy, mabuyagan unya ni akong anak. Tuthui, Father kay mabuyagan.”

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All over Metro Manila, at some major roads and intersections, there is this particular street sign that has been puzzling many pedestrians and motorists – Ped Xing. When it is your first time to see it, you would think that it is a street sign bearing the name of some unfamiliar but important Filipino-Chinese historical figure you ought to know but somehow failed to learn about when you were studying history in school. To your surprise, you find out later that Ped Xing is short for pedestrian crossing.

When Jesus traveled all over Israel during His public ministry, He was, in fact and in truth, the most important of all signs. However, the Pharisees did not recognize Him as such. They had eyes but did not see. They had ears but did not hear. The Pharisees could not understand. Or they did not want to understand. They tested Jesus but it was they who failed the test of faith. They were not merely clueless, pedestrians who could not understand the Sign before them; they were completely lost and covered in darkness.

There are two accounts of today’s gospel. Here in Mark, when Jesus “sighed from the depth of His Spirit,” He may well have mourned for the souls lost to liars and deceivers. In Matthew 12:39, Jesus said that the generation of lost souls will not be given the sign because they are “evil and unfaithful.” The emphasis in Mark is on how Jesus felt from deep within, while that in Matthew, it is on his diagnosis of why the Pharisees were in the dark.

There is hope for the lost. Once the clueless pedestrian knows that the Ped Xing sign is about him and where he would cross, he appreciates how pedestrian becomes Ped and how crossing is abbreviated Xing. The pedestrian on a spiritual journey realizes that there is ‘ped xing’ along the way. It marks the spot where Jesus walks with him/her on the streets of dangers and sin so he/she can safely cross over to the other side where the Father stands waiting. (Fr. Bernard Abrazado, SVD Bible Diary 2009)

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See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year  II

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