Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Exodus 14:5-18; Matthew 12:28-32)

Pope Benedict has penned a charming anecdote about his ordination to the priesthood sixty years ago. He writes that when the archbishop laid his hands on his head, a little bird warbled a joyful song on the high altar of the cathedral. The pope warns his readers that Catholics should not be superstitious but, nevertheless, finds it appropriate to interpret the bird’s tweeter as a sign of God’s approval.

In today’s gospel the Pharisees refuse to accept all that Jesus has done as a sign of God’s authorization for his mission. They demand a further sign although do not specify what would suffice. Would they be satisfied with Jesus’ calling down fire from heaven to burn up an offering like Elias performed? Probably not because, as Jesus points, they will not accept even his rising from the dead as indicating God’s approval. The sad fact is that they have already closed their minds and hearts to faith in him.

As Pope Benedict indicates, we must be careful in seeking signs. We should not demand an inexplicable happening as divine testimony for what we are saying or doing. Yet we can and perhaps should see in the good things that happen to us as God’s blessing when we determinedly strive to carry out His will.