First Sunday of Lent
Saturday After Ash Wednesday
Friday After Ash Wednesday
Thursday After Ash Wednesday
Why does this generation ask for a sign?
They were asking for a sign from heaven – right in the midst of signs everywhere! Wherever Jesus went, wherever two or three were gathered – miracles and ‘signs’ were happening – feeding the five thousand, walking on water, healings at Gennesaret, the deaf man, the Syrophoenician woman – and they demand a sign???
I wonder if we wouldn’t hear those very same words from Jesus today? Even in the midst of our crazy environment, in the midst of daily news that can easily overwhelm us and rob us of our joy and hope – miracles are happening. We can get stuck in despair, anger, hurt – so much so – that we ‘demand’ a sign from God – from heaven rather than use our own voice, presence and gifts to ‘be a sign’ or recognize a sign.
We neglect to notice the act of kindness in our neighbor, the smile from a stranger, the outpouring of generosity to soup kitchens, clothing closets and food pantry’s; the rallying love and help that is outpoured by total strangers in times of crisis and natural disaster. We miss all the ‘pay it forward’ acts of kindness – and would rather wallow in despair, gripe and complain, point fingers and ignore all people who don’t think or look like we do.
Too often we don’t get involved, we don’t communicate with our legislators, we don’t listen to the lived reality of the other. We are content to do nothing, and then throw up our arms and demand a sign from God – we forget, that we have been called to build the Kingdom of God, we have been called to be the presence of Jesus for one another. We forget that we are called to be sign – a sign from heaven.
Faith Offman is the Associate Director of Ministry at St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat and Conference Center in Detroit, Michigan.
We continue with the pairing of primeval history situated at the beginning of the book of Genesis and the gospel of Mark. Here the senses of sight, speech, and hearing are highlighted with movements rich in symbolism telling the story of salvation.
We have a talking serpent that the Lord God had made who most translations label as “cunning.” Later scripture will identify the serpent with Satan or evil but for now the text simply states the facts above. It is clear that he has mischief on his mind as he addresses the unsuspecting woman, who had been living in harmony, feeling no shame. She observed the tree was good, pleasing, and desirable and she acted upon those thoughts certain that she was right. And she had her eyes opened, as did the man who was with her.
This isn’t just a story about Adam and Eve acting on their desire for more than God had given them; more than they needed; more that could hurt them-for life! Even in Eden they wanted more!
I act this out every time I deliberately choose to sin. Certainty can be turned upside down when my eyes are opened to the emptiness of what looked good, pleasing and desirable. I too, am tempted to cover my shame and disobedience by hiding from God.
In the gospel, Jesus lays his hand on the deaf man whose ears and eyes are immediately opened. Recognizing the prophet, Isaiah, who spoke of Israel’s deliverance when God would open the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf (Is. 35:5-6), the people were exceedingly astonished at the significance of Jesus actions. Salvation had come to them-and us!
“Lord, probe me and know my heart…then lead me in the ancient paths.” (Ps 139:23-24) …And we are invited to be healed of our shame so that we may once again walk with the Lord God at the breezy time of the day.
Jean Bowler is a retreatant at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, and a member of the Office of Mission Effectiveness Board of Holy Cross Province.
Friday of the First Week of Lent