In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus points out to the crowds that they can look at the clouds and the sky and be able to predict the weather, but they can’t see Him for who He is: “You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?”
Why indeed? It seems to me that an answer to Jesus’ question might have something to do with assumptions being made. When the people could see a cloud and predict rain, or feel the wind and predict heat, they still knew they could not assume when and how those signs would appear. But for some reason, they thought they could assume how the Messiah would appear, and Jesus did not match their assumptions. So, their preconceived notions about the Messiah blinded them to the reality of the Messiah before them.
Thinking about assumptions may help us understand the second half of our Gospel reading, too. Jesus also says: “If you are to go with your opponent before a magistrate, make an effort to settle the matter on the way; otherwise your opponent will turn you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the constable, and the constable throw you into prison.” When we are in a conflict with someone, we often assume that we are in the right. But maybe that isn’t so. Perhaps, then, we need to find out. We may learn something. It has been my experience that when I have encountered or even tried to help people who are different from myself, that I needed to let go of a lot of assumptions about them.
Letting go of assumptions can help us see things and people as they are, and enables us to love others as Jesus loves us. May our eyes and ears be open to interpret the signs of the times.
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P. is on staff at St. Paul of the Cross Retreat and Conference Center, Detroit, Michigan.