Genesis 4:1-15, 25
Psalm 50:1, 8, 16-17, 20-21
Both of these readings have to do with “signs.” In the first reading Cain, who has murdered his brother Abel, is condemned by God to “become a restless wanderer on the earth.” This is a powerful image of helplessness – no home, no friends, no one to turn to for protection. This punishment fills Cain with fear – fear of falling prey to robbers, murderers or family members seeking vengeance.
“‘Not so!’ The Lord said to him. ‘If anyone kills Cain, Cain shall be avenged sevenfold.’ So the Lord put a mark on Cain.” The mark is a sign of God’s faithfulness to Cain in spite of his crime. Cain needs God’s protection and God remains protectively faithful.
In the second reading, the Pharisees are arguing with Jesus, “seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said, ‘Why does this generation seek a sign?’”
Like Cain and like the Pharisees, I too want a sign. When I am lonely, sad, frustrated, restless, tired, angry, cold, hungry, depressed, destitute, unemployed, homeless, or when I am joyful, happy and at peace, I want a sign that God is with me. Where are you God? What did I ever do to deserve this? Or, what did I ever do to deserve this!! I want the little epiphanies, not just the big Christmas event, but the ones in ordinary times. Is this so much to ask?
Why would Jesus sigh with apparent frustration at the request? Like the Pharisees, I forget that Jesus is the sign. For the Pharisees, the crowds, and the disciples, Jesus being with them was the sign – greater than the “signs” of physical healing, material feeding, and the raising of the dead. The Spirit moving through Jesus into the community was the sign. And so it is today.
What are our signs of God with us? We look to the heavens – the awesomeness of the stars, the brilliance and warmth of the sun, the majesty of the geography, the playfulness of the clouds - all reveal the glory of the creative, imaginative, loving God. I would guess that each one of us has a special place in nature where the presence of God comes through loud and clear.
The sacraments are constant signs of God with us. Eucharist, Confirmation, Holy Orders, Marriage, Sacrament of the Sick, and Reconciliation are signs of God’s abiding love and faithfulness. In the sacrament of Baptism, each one of us not only received the sign of God’s presence, but we were anointed to be signs of God’s presence to others. We are called to be conduits of God’s little “epiphanies.” Those who feed the homeless, care for the sick, help the needy, visit the imprisoned are God’s sign. Friends spending time with friends, coworkers collaborating, families sharing meals – no matter the occasion; God is joyfully, sorrowfully, protectively, gently present with us in the moment.
In the silence of my heart, I ask and I experience.
What are the signs of God with me today?
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