Monday, February 14, 2011

In order to bend your knee, you must first bend your will

Love consumes us only in the measure of our self-surrender. -- St. Therese of Lisieux

Gospel text (Mk 8:11-13): The Pharisees came and started to argue with Jesus. Hoping to embarrass him, they asked for some heavenly sign. Then his spirit was moved. He gave a deep sigh and said, «Why do the people of this present time ask for a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this people». Then he left them, got into the boat again and went to the other side of the lake.

“He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said, ‘Why does this generation seek a sign?’” He sighed from the depth of his spirit. Another way of expressing this deeply personal response of Jesus might say: He gave a deep groan. What was contained in the sigh, in the groan? Is it the sound of disgust? Of impatient anger? Of dismissal?

The groan in the heart of Jesus is the sigh of rejected love. It is like the pain of parents who desire so much for a child, but experience the rejection of their love and the poverty of waiting for a child to awaken to love and to receive rather than reject all that they offer. The child makes demands, but remains blind to love.

The heart of Jesus, full of divine love, comes to call everyone to “believe in the gospel,” the good news of the nearness of the Kingdom of God . But in order for that good news to be received, a change of heart is necessary: “Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Jesus groans and sighs in the face of rejected love. His heart will not rest until those he calls respond to the love he gives.

Nowadays, Jesus is also asked for some heavenly signs: that He let us see his presence in our world or that He tells us in a clear cut manner how we are to behave. The Roman Pontiff makes us see that Jesus' negative to give a sign to the Jews —and, consequently, to us, too— is due to the fact He wants to change the «world logics, oriented to look for signs confirming man's desire of assertiveness and power». The Pharisees did not want just any sign, but one showing Jesus as the Messiah they wanted. They were not waiting for the Messiah coming to save them, but for the Messiah who was to give them the certainty they were doing things the right way.

In short, when the Jews in Jesus' time, or to-day's Christians, ask —one way or another— for a sign, what we are actually asking for, is for God to act according to our own way, that which we think is better and which also stands by our way of thinking. But God, who is omniscient and omnipotent (this is why in The Lord's Prayer we say “your will be done”), has His own ways which, more often than not, we find it difficult to understand. But He, who allows us to find him when we are truly looking for him, if we ask him to enlighten us, He will give us to understand which are his ways and how we can, today, distinguish his signs.

In the light of today’s gospel, we might ask: where do I insist on having proofs of God’s power according to my way of thinking? Where might I be blind to the already-present power of the Kingdom of God ? In what way may Jesus be sighing in the face of my rejection of his love and presence?

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