The Diocese of Brooklyn
Today’s Gospel revolves around the people’s desire to see signs, a desire which Jesus quickly rebukes not because the desire is bad but for a much simpler reason than that. As a matter of fact, Jesus already acknowledges that the people have received signs. If it were “signs” that were bad in and of themselves to which Jesus objected, none would have been given at all. Throughout the Old and New Testaments we hear of signs being offered- from those to the Israelites in the desert to the ones worked by Christ in healings. Then, why the rebuke?
Jesus says that the people of Nineveh will be able to stand in condemnation because when they received a sign – they listened. In effect, Jesus was telling those looking for a sign that they had received signs enough and by now should be responding rather than asking for yet more proof. Did they really need more proof or were they simply stalling their own response? Certainly Jesus’ tone, as it seems to be suggested, would lead us to believe that He is angry with the crowd for not yet having come to believe.
Even though we approach the Scriptures as people of faith, we can ask ourselves rightly whether or not we read the signs and respond as well as we can. So often during times of prayer and communion, we can feel very connected in our relationship with Jesus. Yet, sometimes that connection can be broken quickly when something unexpected and unpleasant occurs. Justly, that can make us question the authenticity of the earlier connection.
Jesus invites us into a durable relationship based on faith. That doesn’t mean we will live in a Pollyanna world where nothing ever disturbs or confuses us but that we are invited to a faith-filled life in which we trust that God has a plan even when we do not know what the plan is. He doesn’t invite us to perfection but to being perfected. In that way, we can see moments of doubt and fear not as challenges to Him to prove His love for us but as challenges to us to prove our love for Him.