Ss. Cyril and Methodius
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Joseph Church, Ponchatula
I won't ask for a show of hands. . .but how many of us have said something like: “Lord, please give me a sign so that I will know what to do?” I'll raise my hand. From about 1981 until 1999, I prayed to God that He send me an unambiguous sign that He wanted me to be a priest. Never got one. Instead, what I got from Him was a message—delivered oh-so-painfully—that said, “Hey, here's an idea: how about an unambiguous sign from you that you're ready to become a priest?” What?! You mean I have to give You a sign? You mean I have to commit to this whole priest thing in order to know for sure if it's what You want from me? Yup. Unless you choose to trust Me, how will you know that a sign from Me is a sign from Me? I've been sending you signs for seventeen years, but you didn't recognize them as signs. So, I've been getting exactly what I prayed for all this time. . .but didn't know it? And said, “Duh. Yeah.” Like me (and you too, probably), the Pharisees have been given enough signs that Jesus is exactly who he says he is, but signs are meant to be read. If you can't read, all the signs in the world can't direct you, every sign in the universe won't help you. The key to spiritual literacy is trust in God. Without trust, we are spiritually illiterate.
Why are the scribes and Pharisees spiritually illiterate? Probably the most significant reason is that they have—over the generations—built up a religious tradition that demands physical evidence of God's will before they trust in Him. This shouldn't be surprising. After all, God appeared in a burning bush; gave them the commandments carved in stone; He lead them out of slavery in Egypt by parting the Red Sea, sending them pillars of smoke and fire; and provided them with manna from heaven to eat and water from a rock to drink. All tangible, easily interpreted signs of His presence. The scribes and Pharisees follow the rules and wait for more signs. So, asking Jesus for a sign that he is the Messiah comes naturally for them. But Jesus, “No sign will be given to this generation.” Probably b/c they wouldn't be able to read it anyway.
If you've been praying for a sign and you haven't gotten it yet, ask yourself: would I recognize a sign from God if I got one? And if I got one, would I be able to read it? Here's an even better question: if I trust in God to provide for all I need, trust in Him to be with me through hell and high water, what difference would a sign make? Trust is not based on evidence. In fact, the very definition of trust includes the idea that we believe in, have faith in something or someone in the absence of supporting evidence! How many times have you heard someone say, “Of course I trust my husband/wife/kids/friends. . .but I need to be sure, I need proof”? That's not trust. That's insurance. And God is not the CEO of an insurance company. He doesn't issue policies against disasters in exchange for premium payments. God provides, and we trust Him to do so. With trust in Him comes spiritual literacy and everything becomes a legible sign of His good will, His love for us.
If you are asking for a sign, ask yourself why. Why am I asking for a sign? Am I anxious? Am I demanding proof? Am I waiting to see which path is easier? When faced with a choice, ask yourself, which choice will bring me closer to God? Which path will help me to grow in holiness? Become more charitable? More peaceful? God provides. He will bless your choice, giving you all the grace you need to come to Him perfected in Christ. So, give Him a sign that you are ready to receive all that He has to give.
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