Reflection on the Daily Readings for 7/20/09 by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Mon. of 16th week. Exodus 14:5-18. Resp. Exodus 15:1-2.3-4.5-6.
Matthew 12:38-42. Lectionary # 395:
Asking for signs is a part of each generation. What signs do you ask for
before you do something? Do you ask God to show you some signs that will
confirm what you believe about God? If so, you are in line with a long
list of other people from times past and present. Today the religious
leaders and their lawyers ask Jesus to perform a miracle or show them a
sign. Rather than put them off, Jesus offers them a similitude which
foreshadows one of the greatest “signs” known to salvation history.
Believers live in the framework of seeing God working within human history;
those who do not believe probably do not even ask for signs or miracles.
Most of us would be somewhere in the middle of this asking for signs with a
sincere heart and others are “tempting” God or Jesus as we have in the
episode of the Gospel for today.
Rising from the dead is what will be the sign Jesus offers them as he
compares this great event with the story behind Jonah about being in the
belly of a whale or “big fish” if you so choose to differentiate what you
learned in gradeschool. Do you remember pictures showing the prophet with
a lighted lamp sitting in the “belly of the whale”?
Just like Jonah being freed from the large fish’s belly after three days,
so will the Son of Man be freed from the tomb in his resurrection. Wow!
What a sign. As Jesus argued with the religious leaders we know that they
too did believe in bodily resurrection, in the existence of angels, and in
the Torah as the divinely inspired word of God. Jesus did too , but he did
something about it. The leaders were not sincere in their request of Jesus
for a sign. They feigned their confidence in him. He also speaks about the
Wisdom of Solomon but he as the Word of God is Wisdom personified. The
Queen of the South (Ethiopia) would have recognized this great gift of
Jesus but his inqisitors do not. Too bad for them!
In our Exodus narrative we are at a standstill with the Israelites who now
complain to Moses about leading them into the desert. They had hoped for
something better, maybe a sign for freedom from the oppressors. Now they
have little to be happy about and a scarcity of food. Who is this guy
Moses? They yearn fro the past and the “comfort food” of the Egyptians.
The army of Pharaoh is pursuing them and they are far from being equipped
to stave them off. What sign can Moses give them? Their lack of trust is
visible and ultimately they are weak in faith in the one true God.
However, the greatest event in the history of God’s People Israel is about
to happen through God’s cooperative agent, Moses. Our response actually
sings about the sign given them. It is the Song of Miriam or Moses
depending on your commentators. This is a victory song and one of great
celebration of the God who can both divide seas and ultimately raise them
from the dead. Our message for today is simply “trust in the promises of
God; trust in the sign of Jesus’ which is the Resurrection. Both passages
are life-giving and inspire us to be people of hope. Amen.