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Mark 8:11-13

The Word of God

The Pharisees came and began to argue with Jesus, asking him for a sign from heaven, to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, "Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation." And he left them, and getting into the boat again, he went across to the other side.

Mark 8:11-13
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • This exchange follows the account of Jesus miraculously feeding four thousand people. In the eyes of the Pharisees, he would perhaps now be poised to take up a role of popular political leadership. Were these Pharisees trying to test his intentions? Some dramatic, spectacular further ‘sign’ might now be seen as giving heaven’s testimony to such a venture. But Jesus was having none of it.
    • In fact, in a moment, he goes on to warn his disciples against the contagion of such worldly political thinking from any faction. The real significance of the feeding-miracle was simply as an aid to the crowds towards recognising in himself the surpassing source of all sustenance – especially sustenance for the Spirit.
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • Do I share the exasperation of Jesus at the stubborn obstinacy of the Pharisees, demanding a sign, after he had first fed five thousand of his own Jewish people in Galilee (Mark 6:32-44) and then fed four thousand non-Jewish people on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee (Mark 8:1-10)?
    • By crossing and re-crossing the sea from west to east and east to west, Jesus is reaching out to Jew and gentile alike - to all peoples.
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • Arguing can be acceptable, but the Pharisees’ are hostile: they have decided that Jesus is their enemy. From now on in the gospel they will be ‘testing’ Jesus, trying to find his weaknesses, so they can do away with him. Nothing he does will satisfy them: their hearts are closed. God often ‘tests’ us, but it is in order to bring out the best in us, to make our faith and love grow deeper.
    • Do I sometimes make Jesus ‘sigh deeply’? Am I waiting for him to do something spectacular for me? Is it not enough for him to have given his life to save the world? Am I a wavering disciple who cannot be depended on? I pray: ‘Jesus, don’t leave me behind! Drag me along with you as you ‘cross over’ to a place I cannot reach without you, the kingdom of God’.
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    • God knows how much I would sometimes love a sign! But God knows, too, how many signs there are around and about me. I take some time to notice the wonders that God works.
    • Jesus realised he couldn't satisfy the demanding, grasping search for evidence. Wanting to have the last word, to provide conclusive proof, sets me apart from Jesus. Help me, Lord, to know when to turn away.
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • All the wonders that Jesus is doing are the ‘sign from heaven’ that the Pharisees are demanding. But their hearts are closed. If a new sign came, they would look for yet another. Earlier, it was Satan who demanded a sign from Jesus when tempting him in the desert.
    • Lord, what about me? Am I always looking for something more from you? You reveal yourself as being totally on my side, through your Passion and Resurrection. Let me accept these great signs. Let me trust that you are on my side even when smaller things do not go well.
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • There are times, Lord, when I too look for something abnormal to proclaim your presence. In fact it is all around me. There are signs enough of you in my every day: / One asked a sign from God; and day by day The sun arose in pearl; in scarlet set Each night the stars appeared in bright array Each morn the thirsty grass with dew was wet ; The corn failed not its harvest, nor the vine -- And yet he saw no sign!/
    • Jesus asks for faith in him and in his words, not in signs and miracles. The sign given in prayer is simply that we pray; not much may happen, but it is our time, our love given to God. Our works for God are in action time. Prayer is time for the heart. God is always at work growing our heart so that it is more like the heart of his Son.
    • Prayer is a time of faith. Often we get no signs from God of anything more than the fruit of time spent with God. Feelings are not always high in prayer, but a grace of growth in faith and love is always given in prayer. Jesus is not always the man of big signs but is the one of constant and gentle love, given wholly in the sign of his death.
    • The Pharisees approach Jesus demanding some authenticating sign from God, some spectacular public display, to test whether he is the true Messiah. But, with a sigh that comes straight from the heart, Jesus says, "Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation." Today, people often look for miraculous signs such as moving statues, revolutions of the sun, or some other spectacular display of God's power to strengthen their faith. The only sign that Jesus gives his own life, death, and resurrection.

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