The prospect of a "miracle" catches the attention of most any human being. Perhaps a physical healing, a financial turn-around, the avoidance of a "sure" accident…for ourselves or a loved one…. Sure! Thank you, Jesus!
The people in today’s Gospel were looking for some such miracle from Jesus, some spectacular proof of his claims to selfless goodness and truth. But Jesus refused to give any extraordinary sign…his soulful preaching of God’s word was enough. Even the pagans of Nineveh accepted Jonah’s preaching of reform — and Jonah could in no way match the personal power of Jesus’ words!
As people of faith, we once in a while wish for some extraordinary sign from God to confirm our faith and help us get ahead. "Oh if God would only let me get that job…win that lottery…lose some weight…cure that cancer…" Mostly we live by the "ordinary" signs of God’s activity in our lives: his presence to us in the Holy Eucharist, the Sacred Scriptures, and in the lives of one another…"ordinary," yet oh so special!
The Lenten season encourages us to seek a renewal of heart, an openness to God’s redemptive presence in all aspects of life. In our fast-paced world, it may take a "miracle" to get us to stop and pay attention: to take a "time-out" and go deeper in our lives.
Rather than clamor for an attention-grabbing miracle, perhaps we can quietly accompany Jesus to the desert for an experience of spiritual conversation and enrichment, or we can join Him at the table of the Eucharist for a weekday celebration, or accompany Him as He reaches out to the needy person we meet during our day. And, it’s amazing how these Lenten practices can lead us to ponder the Cross of Jesus — the "sign" of God’s miraculous love for us and our world. Jesus’ love is greater than we could ever ask or imagine!
May Jesus’ Passion-ate love fill our hearts these days of Lent.
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is the local leader of the Passionist community in Louisville, Kentucky.