Believing Without Signs
Daily Reflection – 2/18/19
The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, asking him for a sign from heaven, to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.” And he left them, and getting into the boat again, he went across to the other side.( Mark 8:11-13)
Today’s Gospel talks about the hunger by people for signs.
The Christian mystics tell us that the spiritual life involves two distinct but related phases: a period of consolation, and that of desolation. God, they say, sends us both.
Think of those moments when you feel everything’s alright; when your heart feels like it wants to sing God’s praises because everything’s going well. Such moments of consolation, the mystics tell us, are God’s gifts.
But then, these moments pass, and instead of feeling on top of the world, you suddenly feel barren, arid and dry, not only spiritually. No matter how hard you pray and ask God to rid you of the dryness, you can’t seem to get rid of the feeling of emptiness.
But the absence of signs is itself the sign. At such moments, paradoxically, the presence of God is known through his very absence. We should recognize that sometimes in being absent that that there is an invitation that God is extending. It’s the invitation to ask ourselves why we chose to follow Him in the first place. Was it because of the signs God had given us?
For it is when we experience the dryness and desolation of the spiritual life that we are able to discern the gifts from the Giver, the signs from the One they signify. And as we slowly distinguish the two, we come to realize that it isn’t the gifts, or the consolations, or the signs that must ultimately matter to us, but God himself, and Him alone.
The occasional absence of signs—the spiritual dryness we all go through every so often—is an invitation to deepen our faith and mature in our vocation to follow Christ. Why are there no signs? The answer is simple. Christ wants us to follow him, know him, be intimate with him, and slowly learn to give up looking for signs.
Prayer of The Day
Lord Jesus, thank you for the signs you have already placed before me – most notable The Sign of The Cross on which you gave your life so that I may know life eternal. Help me to deepen my faith so that I come to see your presence in my life through the real things you have already down for me.
The fact is, it takes time and effort and a life of dedication to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. We laugh at the disciples sometimes because they are so slow to “get Jesus.” But we’re the same way. Having the advantages of a Resurrected Christ and the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we’re still slow to “get Jesus.” We need to have the courage to believe even without any signs. This is what true faith means.
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