In today’s Gospel reading, some scribes and Pharisees ask for a sign from Jesus. And Jesus replies “An evil and unfaithful generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.” Jesus then draws an analogy between Jonah being in the belly of a whale for three days and nights, and He being in the earth for the same time before His resurrection.
Sometimes in our lives we ask God for a sign. We yearn for some indication that God is listening, that God cares. Or we’re searching for guidance about which direction we should go. Is it “evil and unfaithful” to ask for a sign? I don’t believe so, but there are some things we need to remember when we do ask for a sign.
Jesus’ response to the scribes and Pharisees has occurred after many times in which Jesus has indeed done some wonderful things in the lives of people, and the Pharisees and scribes have dismissed them as the work of Satan. They refuse to recognize the signs that have already been given. When we ask for a sign, we need to be open to how God may answer our request. The sign or how it may be given may not be what we expect or go according to our plans.
Also, we need to remember the signs that Jesus has already given us about love and hope: most notably the Cross and the empty tomb. If we remember those signs, we will be reassured of God’s love for us.
We need to be open to being a sign that God might send someone else, to reassure him or her of His faithfulness.
If we follow the words of the prophet Micah in our first reading, we will be receptive to the signs that God gives us and answer the call to be a sign for others: “Only do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P., is the local superior at St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Community in Detroit, Michigan.