Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.”
I, too, would like a sign. As a scientist, I am trained to examine evidence. Propositions should be testable. Hypotheses are developed on the basis of previous observations and confirmed on the basis of new data. Perhaps this was the demand of the scribes and Pharisees. Perhaps the point of the Gospel was to foreshadow three days of Jesus in the tomb. Perhaps the point was to identify problems with those who did not recognize Jesus’ role in salvation history. Still, my impression is Jesus’ response in today’s Gospel takes the conversation in a very different direction.
The metaphor that Jesus is using in the Gospel is that of the unfaithful spouse. When understood this way, a sign has a very different meaning. In a relationship, we generally do not ask our partner to prove their love. Nevertheless in a relationship there is the expectation of faithfulness and the expectation that a certain attention is given. A relationship survives only when both sides are investing time and attentiveness with the other.
I can easily imagine myself in the role of someone in the Gospel’s crowd. I do not hear a call for evidence from God as I saw in my first cursory reading of today’s Gospel. Rather than hearing a call testing faith, I heard a call for faithfulness. I hear a call to give God the attention that a relationship with God deserves. I see the comfort that a relationship brings. I see the promise that this is not a one-sided relationship. I am brought to feel God’s contribution to the relationship.
The Psalm builds on the idea of the covenant, a two-sided agreement. I feel Jesus takes this idea of an agreement and goes farther, seeing it as a relationship. I see a similar direction in the reading from Micah. The reading takes the form of a legal exchange, but it moves to the idea of the reestablishment of a relationship.
My prayers today are for the growth of relationships. I pray for the ability to recognize the occasions for going beyond commitments. I pray to see the opportunities for being inclusive and welcoming. I pray for the awareness and dedication to my relationships both with my God and with my fellowman.
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