Monday, July 18, 2011

Sharing on the readings of Mon 18th Jul 2011

When I read the Gospel passage of Mt 12:38-42, I used to think it was best not to ask God for a sign. After all Jesus said "It is an evil and unfaithful generation that seeks a sign".

But as I continue on my faith journey, I have come to realise that signs from God are important to help us grow in our faith. It assures us of God's presence with us on our journey, sometimes leading us, other times just to let us know He is there.

One sign which God gave me which I treasure was during a silent retreat that I went for. During that retreat, it was about 5 prayer sessions of 1 hour each a day. And of course after a few days, I started to lose focus and was getting a bit tired or lazy. So there was one prayer session that I felt that my prayer was really dry and fruitless. And I started to bargain with God to let me do 30 mins, or 45 mins instead of the full hour.

I tried to persevere on, but I couldn't get my mind focused on the bible passage, and so I started to look around for something to distract me, and I saw a trail of ants. The ants were just industriously walking up and down the trail, I think to find food or something.
ant of rocks
I was really so bored and distracted at the time, that I decided to search whether the bible mentions "ants". And so I searched and found the passage Proverbs 6:6

Go to the ant, you lazybones; consider its ways, and be wise.
And I knew that God was showing me a sign, to remind me not to be lazy, but to be faithful like the ant, even if the task may seem boring or routine.

Back to the Gospel passage. If signs from God are beneficial to us, why did Jesus say what he said? It is not that signs are bad, but signs cannot be the foundation of our faith. Our faith needs to be built on our relationship with God, not external signs.

Take the example of dating vs marriage. In the beginning stages of the relationship, both parties give lots of signs of their love for the other, gifts, smses, etc. But as the relationship deepens, these external signs no longer play such an important role in expressing the love between the two.

It is the same with God, our relationship with him needs to be deepened, where it is strengthened by external signs, but not dependent on them. If we fail to reach that stage, we will be like the Israelites in the 1st Reading (Exodus 15:1bc-2, 3-4, 5-6) who despite the signs that God has shown them, complain at the first sign of difficulty, and wanting to go back to slavery in Egypt.

Our relationship with God cannot be one where he is a vending machine giving us signs whenever we want them. But it should be based on the trust that he truly is God and loves us immensely. The one most important sign that He gave us, as what Jesus says in the Gospel, is that of Jesus Christ who died for our sins and rose again to give us hope.

Remember that during the times in our lives where we may fail to see God's signs in our lives, it could be that he is testing and strengthening our faith in him, that we still believe even if we don't see. As Jesus said to doubting Thomas:
You believe because you can see me. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe - Jn 20:29

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