Monday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
(James 1:1-11; Mark 8:11-13)
Recently I was asked to produce a certificate – a sign -- showing that I am ordained in order to celebrate Mass in the prison. In an age when people arrive and leave communities with great frequency, who could blame such an institution for wanting to keep records of its visitors? Perhaps, then, the request from the Pharisees that Jesus produce a sign that he is whom he claims to be is in order. By this point in the Gospel of Mark Jesus has indicated that he can forgive sins and that he is the “Lord of the Sabbath.” But the mighty deeds that he has performed to date are just hearsay to the Pharisees. They want to see him do a work of power to corroborate the assertion that he has been sent from God.
However, Jesus has not come to offer such assurance. He intends to arouse faith that God is bringing about a new creation through him. Although people believe this after witnessing and even hearing about his cures and other wonders, they should not expect that Jesus perform such acts at their command. This would not produce faith in God, but quite the opposite – subjecting God to personal desire. The Pharisees are left frustrated. To avoid such a sensation and, more importantly, to assume the rewards of faith, we want simply to place our trust in Jesus. We will ask his assistance certainly since he has invited us to do so. But we will be careful to add like he did himself in his prayer to the Father, “Not mine, but your will be done.”