Today’s Gospel shows the Pharisees wanting a sign, a miracle. They wanted Jesus to submit himself to their criteria, and classify him in the scheme of their concept of Messiah. In the parallel Gospel of Mark (8:12) we read that Jesus in the presence of the Pharisees’ request took a deep breath, probably of disgust and sadness, in the face of such a blindness.
Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of the whale as well as the Son of Man spent three days in the depth of the earth before rising. The sign was just that: the resurrection of Christ, who continues to rise in many ways to those who believe in Him. Thus, the sign that converts is not to look for big miracles, but just the testimony of daily life!
And us? How many signs we have already received in our lives and how many other signs do we truly need before converting our hearts and follow the teachings of Jesus? How many times will Jesus sigh in sadness?
I call myself a “Christian” and “converted” but many times I come out from Mass or from a community meeting feeling a strong need to convert. The risk is that we consider conversion as something that happened in a specific moment, as a single act concluded. To convert instead means to transform oneself, time after time.
And to do so we need to free a small piece of ground in our soul from thorn and stones as Pope Francis urged in his speech to the young people in Brazil last Summer: “be brave and offer to God at least a small piece of ground to welcome with enthusiasm the Word, and make it fertile”.
But we are always searching for signs from the Lord.
Lent is the time for conversion, being able to look into our lives in search of the signs, however small, that have marked our existence. Also, look at the signs around us, the Sunday Homilies, those gestures of good and wisdom that we find around us each new day.
In our complicated lives, in our whirling routine, sometimes chaotic and hectic, personally I find it necessary to be able to stop for a moment and reflect in prayer on all the signs that God has given us in our lives and make a list.
It can be during a spiritual retreat or a family trip, or simply in the silence of our room early in the morning before going to work. I was asked to write my list during a retreat on Mary, the one who believed in the power of God (i.e. Gabriel) even if it was scary and beyond human possibilities. It was very surprising when I completed the list, because all those many signs received and there enlisted, were composing the prayer of my life, my personal Magnificat.
Let’s turn our glance to Mary today and invoke the Holy Spirit, to guide and help us in having eyes to see beyond the veil and hearts able to catch and recognize Christ in the smallest happenings of everyday life.
Maria Soggiu is from Viterbo (a Medieval town in the center of Italy) and lives in Rome. She is married to Riccardo with a baby girl of 6 and a super active boy of 2 and works at the Pontifical North American College as administrative assistant.