11 The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven, to test him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation.” 13 And he left them, and getting into the boat again he departed to the other side.
Meditation: Are you good at reading signs? Signs tell us what is coming ahead. The people of Jesus’ time expected that the coming of the Messiah would be accompanied by extraordinary signs and wonders. The religious leaders tested Jesus to see if he had a genuine sign from heaven to back his claim to be the Messiah. False messiahs in the past had made extraordinary claims to attract their followers, such as claiming that they could cleave the Jordan River in two or cause the walls of Jerusalem to fall.
What makes us blind-sighted to God’s presence and power in our lives?
Jesus knew the hearts of those who came to test him. They were more interested in seeking signs to prove that they were right and Jesus was wrong. Jesus revealed the true intention of their heart – they came to argue with him and to test him (Mark 8:11) because they did not believe that he spoke in the name of his Father in heaven. They wanted to discredit his claim to be the true Messiah and Savior. They unfortunately were blind-sighted to the truth of Jesus’ message that the Father had sent him, the only begotten Son, to set them free from sin, Satan, and death. No miracle of Jesus would convince them because their hearts were full of self-seeking pride and glory for themselves.
Simeon had prophesied at Jesus’ birth that he was “destined for the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that inner thoughts of many will be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35). Jesus gave the Pharisees no sign except himself and the ultimate proof of his divinity when he overcame death and rose victorious from the tomb on the third day.We also need no further proof than the witness of Jesus who fulfilled what Moses and the prophets had foretold would take place when the Messiah came to redeem his people.
Jesus is the only begotten Son of God who came from the Father in heaven to set us free from the power of sin, Satan, and death. His death on the cross atones for all of our sins and opens for us the floodgates of God’s merciful love and healing forgiveness. He alone can set us free from guilt, condemnation, pride, and fear. He alone can give us abundant life, peace, and joy through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus gives us “listening ears” and “eyes of faith” to recognize his presence in our lives
The Lord reveals himself and makes his presence known to us in many ways – in his “word” (the good news he came to give us) and in the “breaking of the bread” in the Eucharist (he is the Bread of Life), in his church – the Body of Christ, and in his creation (he is the Word who created all things). And even in the daily circumstances of our lives the Lord Jesus continues to speak to us and guide us. If we seek the Lord Jesus, we will surely find him. And we can be confident that he will give us whatever we need to carry out his will for our lives. Most of all the Lord Jesus assures us of his daily presence with us and the promise that he will never leave us. Theresa of Avila’s prayer book contained a bookmark which she wrote: Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you; All things pass: God never changes. Patience achieves all it strives for. Whoever has God lacks nothing, God alone suffices. Is God enough for you?
Psalm 119:67-68, 71-72, 75-76
67 Before I was afflicted I went astray; but now I keep your word.
68 You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.
71 It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.
72 The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
75 I know, O LORD, that your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
76 Let your steadfast love be ready to comfort me according to your promise to your servant.
Daily Quote from the Early Church Fathers: Why does this generation seek a sign, by John Chrysostom (347-407 AD)
“But for what sign from heaven were they asking? Maybe that he should hold back the sun, or curb the moon, or bring down thunderbolts, or change the direction of the wind, or something like that?… In Pharaoh’s time there was an enemy from whom deliverance was needed (Exodus 3-15). But for one who comes among friends, there should be no need of such signs.” (excerpt from GOSPEL OF ST. MATTHEW, HOMILY 53.3)