July 20, 2020 – Monday of the 16th Week in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072020.cfm)
As the pandemic developed and caused great difficulties all over the world, many have interpreted this event as a sign of the apocalyptic days or the end of the world. In fact, many tragic events in the past were also taken as signs of the end of the world. This caused panic and anxiety among those who really believed on this.
Moreover, it has been our attitude to seek for signs especially when we are confused and filled with unanswered questions. We also ask God to give us signs when we are in the situation of making decisions. We also ask signs from God especially when we become doubtful of His presence and when we experience problems and trials in life. We believe that if God would give us a sign, then, that will make us confident in God.
However, it has been our experience too, that when we do not receive any sign from God, we begin to doubt more or become angry with God for not listening to us. We may also think that life is so unfair because even a single sign of assurance is not given to us.
Yet, we remind ourselves today of our tendency to expect impressive signs that will unfold before us. This is actually the problem that we have heard in our readings today. We are reminded of these two attitudes in us namely, our forgetfulness of God’s blessings and coldness towards God’s presence.
The Book of Prophet Micah reminds us of this first tendency in us, of our short memory and inclination to forget God’s blessings. This is how Yahweh expressed the Divine plea to the people. God reminded the people how they were saved and brought out from Egypt and were released from slavery. Moreover, God sent instruments to guide the people like Moses, Aaron and Miriam. These events and people were signs of God’s blessings yet, the people have forgotten all of these. The people have become ungrateful to God because of their forgetfulness.
Likewise, our Gospel today reminds us also of our tendency to become cold towards God’s presence. This has been portrayed the way people asked Jesus for a sign so that they will believe in him. The people expected Jesus to do a big and great sign before their eyes before they will recognize God. They thought of Jesus to be some kind of magician. This was the mistake of the people at that time because they asked sign from Jesus, when, in fact, Jesus himself was the greatest sign and miracle that ever happened.
That is why, Jesus, as if scolding them of their ignorance and indifference, reminded them on how the Ninevites believed in Jonah’s sign and on how the Queen of Sheba believed also in the signs present with King Solomon. However, these people though Jesus was greater than Jonah and Solomon, did not recognize God in the person of Jesus.
This happens also to us when we tend to be indifferent to what is ordinary. The Jews at that time were not able to recognize God’s tremendous presence in the ordinary life of Jesus. Because Jesus was too ordinary for them, and a mere son of a carpenter from Nazareth, the people refused to believe in Jesus and refused to recognize God in the person of Jesus.
The Lord reveals himself to us in ordinary and many ways. This is what Jesus is inviting us today, that we may recognize daily God’s blessings and presence in us. But how?
First, be appreciative and be always grateful even of small graces and blessings that you receive each day. Express in words and actions your gratitude. Be more generous to say sincerely “thank you” to people around you and to God. With this attitude we will always be reminded of the many blessings from God and avoid becoming forgetful.
Second, be more discerning and listen better on how Jesus reveals himself in ordinary ways. This is also a call to be sensitive to God’s many revelations even in the most ordinary ways. Indeed, God reveals himself and his love for us every day and every moment of our life, in moments of defeat and moments victory, in moments of failures and moments of success, in moments of death and in moments of life. To discern and to listen, then, will make us less judgmental and to become more welcoming of God’s presence in our life.
In these ways, we may always see and recognize God’s many ways of revealing His signs for us. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR