July 20, 2020, Monday of the Sixteenth Week of Ordinary Time
Scripture: Matthew 12:38-42
Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, ‘Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.’ But he answered them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was for three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth. The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgement with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here! The queen of the South will rise up at the judgement with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here!
The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
“. . .and see, something greater . . . is here!”
As we follow Jesus’ ministry in Matthew’s Gospel, it may seem strange to us that the scribes and Pharisees are asking for a sign. In chapter 12 alone, Jesus has healed the man with the withered hand and cured a demoniac. He has been performing many miracles. So why are they asking again for a sign?
Based on the Pharisees’ assertion in Matthew 12:24 that Jesus is casting out demons through allegiance with the prince of demons, it seems likely that the Pharisees are asking Jesus to offer proof, or a sign, that he is really from God. In substance, they are saying, “Where does your power really come from? And if from God, then prove it.” Imagine Jesus’ consternation. He so deeply yearns to reach everyone’s heart. Here he is, preaching a Gospel of love and repentance, healing the sick, and casting out demons. If the reality of what he is doing doesn’t offer his audience proof that the power of God is in their midst, then what will? Yet aren’t our hearts at times just as impregnable to God’s presence around us as those of the Pharisees? I know I can be blind to a God who defies my expectations, who works in paradoxical ways.
Lord, help me to be aware of your presence. Help me to see the ways that your power continues to work today, weaving a thread of the divine through the situations and people I encounter. You are not always where I expect, indeed rarely! Help me to remain open to the mystery of who you are and how you work.
“Something greater is here”