Will God give us miracles or not?
A Reflection for Monday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Find today’s readings here.
Some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus,
“Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.”
He said to them in reply,
“An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign,
but no sign will be given it
except the sign of Jonah the prophet.” (Mt 12:38-39)
In today’s Gospel the scribes and Pharisees seek a sign from Jesus, but he refuses to give it to them. In the reading from Exodus, on the other hand, the Israelites receive what may be the most dramatic sign in the Bible—the parting of the Red Sea.
So what gives? Will God show us what he can do—or won’t he?
The short answer is that God does not work on our schedule or respond to our demands. He doesn’t play by our rules, and will reveal himself at the time of his choosing.
But we can sympathize. We have all, at some point, looked for confirmation that God is real and is present in our lives. We have all wanted to see a sign.
What to do? The answer, I think, is not to demand a sign from God, but to shift our gaze backward, to see the signs of grace in our past.
What to do? The answer, I think, is not to demand a sign from God, but to shift our gaze backward, to see the signs of grace in our past. This is the point of the Examen. By reviewing each moment of each day in prayer, it becomes clearer where God is at work in our lives. When you take the time to look, the signs are everywhere.
I can’t imagine what it would be like to see the sea part before me. I would be blown away, of course, and I would like to think my faith would never be the same. I suspect, however, that I would still want more—more evidence that God is with me, that I am not alone.
That was the case for Moses and the Israelites. They saw what God could do, but they still yearned for him. Their journey did not end at the Red Sea.
What may be most awesome about God is not that he can part the sea or heal the sick but that he is present in each of our lives. The signs are there for those with eyes to see.