Monday, July 20, 2015

Something Greater

Far better for us to be the slaves of the Egyptians than to die in the desert.” But Moses answered the people, “Fear not! Stand your ground, and you will see the victory the LORD will win for you today. These Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again. The LORD himself will fight for you; you have only to keep still.”  Exodus 14:12-14

Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and there is something greater than Jonah here.  Matthew 12:40-41

Thus it is that he should adapt and arrange everything
in such a way that souls may be saved
and that the brethren may do their work
without just cause for murmuring.  (Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 41)

Every time the Jews needed to bolster their faith, the Lord was willing to provide a sign.  Moses parted the Red Sea when they feared for their lives at the hands of the Egyptians.  Jonah lived in the belly of the whale for three days until he returned and asked the Ninevites to change the direction of their pursuits of happiness. 

With that common history, Jesus was not surprised at the request from the Pharisees.  However, Jesus performed such signs on his own impulse, not on demand like a side show performer.  Today, faced with the hard hearts of the scribes and the Pharisees, there would be no leper cured, no water-turned-to-wine, no multiplied loaves and fishes. 

As Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB, describes today’s excerpt from the RSB, she explains, “The first principle of Benedictine spirituality…is to do what must be done with special care and special zeal so that doing it can change our consciousness and carve our souls into the kind of beauty that comes from simple things.  It is so easy to go through life looking for special ways to find God when God is most of all to be found in doing common things with uncommon conscientiousness.”

The scribes and the Pharisees had none of that special care.  They wanted as sign as a mathematical proof, not as an instrument of peace and faith.

What signs of God’s presence are in your life?   The sights and sounds of the sea breeze and ocean on a warm day at the beach?  The verdant green mountain hillsides?  Or maybe there is something greater closer to home like the fresh grass in your own backyard with flowers blooming all around?  Or the people around you in your everyday life, not some celebrity you will see at a one-time concert.

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