6th Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Jas 1:1-11
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes in the dispersion, greetings. Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it. But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, since he is a man of two minds, unstable in all his ways. The brother in lowly circumstances should take pride in high standing, and the rich one in his lowliness, for he will pass away “like the flower of the field.” For the sun comes up with its scorching heat and dries up the grass, its flower droops, and the beauty of its appearance vanishes. So will the rich person fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
Gospel: Mk 8:11-13
The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with Jesus, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” Then he left them, got into the boat again, and went off to the other shore.
WHY DO WE RELATE TO JESUS?: The scribes and the Pharisees could not accepted Jesus because his life and teachings were not in line with theirs. So, they argued with Jesus, seeking from him a sign from heaven. This was not the only time they asked for a sign as proof for his authority. Jesus was teaching with authority and doing many miracles –giving sight to the blind, healing the deaf and dumb, and the paralytics, casting out devils, and even raising the dead. The people listened to him with admiration. The leaders had to either accept or deny him. In their denial, they chose to challenges him. Hence, they asked for a sign, in order to discredit him. Jesus did not yield to their demands. Faith in God and in Jesus is not the result of rational effort of man but of humble submission of the self to God.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, the way the truth and the life, help me to accept the truth, walk in your way and attain Eternal Life.
SEEKING MIRACLES IN ORDER TO BELIEVE: We often make demands in order to believe in God, yet faith is not built on a foundation of numerous miracles. Also, those who demand signs and miracles, keep looking for more and more in order to believe. In the end they never believe. In fact, all through they are refusing to believe. In today’s readings we see the Pharisees eager to keep their argument alive as they seek to prove a point. Had they been eager to believe, they would have started on a reconciliatory note, with a spirit of listening and a sense of give and take. Contrary to the Pharisees, St Augustine says, “I believe that I may understand and I understand that I may believe”. For him, belief is at the core of human nature; belief and understanding are inseparable. If we choose to be like the Pharisees, we shall always have an excuse not to believe. If we choose the way of St. Augustine we shall always have a reason to believe. Without trust we shall remain hungry and starved.
SIGNS OF DOUBT: It is obvious from the gospels that the Pharisees were the perpetual critics of Jesus. Notice how they boldly stepped forward here and immediately started to argue with Jesus. They refused to take the Lord’s words at face value. They claimed a sign from the heavens which would enable them to place their faith in the Lord, but Jesus knew that even the most spectacular signs would not convince them to accept him as the promised Messiah and certainly not as the Son of God, equal to the Father. The only sign they received from Jesus was that of a frustrated sigh, from the depths of His spirit. A sigh is the expression of a deep audible breath. It often implies a kind of hopelessness in a certain situation. Then the Lord simply boarded the boat and left. We cannot answer every question to the satisfaction of every person. Some don’t really want to know what we think, they just want to argue perhaps. We have all been in those situations where there’s not much we can do except, like Jesus, give a sigh and quit the place!