By the time of the encounter between Jesus and the Pharisees described in today’s gospel, Jesus had performed various miracles and works of power. The Pharisees were not satisfied, but seemed to want something more, something on a grander scale perhaps. Mark’s gospel, the shortest of the four, presents the deeds and words of Jesus in a succinct manner, but not to the exclusion of details. Today, we are given Jesus’ verbal response to the Pharisees, but not before we are given a clue as to Jesus’ inner reaction to their request.
“He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said, ‘Why does this generation seek a sign?’” He sighed from the depth of his spirit. Another way of expressing this deeply personal response of Jesus might say: He gave a deep groan. What was contained in the sigh, in the groan? Is it the sound of disgust? Of impatient anger? Of dismissal?
The groan in the heart of Jesus is the sigh of rejected love. It is like the pain of parents who desire so much for a child, but experience the rejection of their love and the poverty of waiting for a child to awaken to love and to receive rather than reject all that they offer. The child makes demands, but remains blind to love.
The heart of Jesus, full of divine love, comes to call everyone to “believe in the gospel,” the good news of the nearness of the Kingdom of God. But in order for that good news to be received, a change of heart is necessary: “Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Jesus groans and sighs in the face of rejected love. His heart will not rest until those he calls respond to the love he gives.
In the light of today’s gospel, we might ask: where do I insist on having proofs of God’s power according to my way of thinking? Where might I be blind to the already-present power of the Kingdom of God? In what way may Jesus be sighing in the face of my rejection of his love and presence?
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