Meditation for the Day

Monday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time, February 15

May the Sign We Seek Be the Divine Presence within Us, for It Is God’s Word, Together with the Holy Sacraments, Which Are the Only Signs We Need for Our Salvation.

We hear in today’s Gospel, “The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with Jesus, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said, ‘Why does this generation seek a sign?’

I remember many years ago, in the late 1980’s and early 90’s, there was a report that our Blessed Mother was appearing to a man, whose first name was Joseph, in a small community called Marlboro in North Jersey.

If I remember the story correctly as it was reported in various news sources, including the Associated Press and the New York Times, our Blessed Mother would reportedly appear once a month, and several thousands of people would drive there, some from places several hundreds of miles away.

Each month, the congestion of cars and people would overcome this small community. And the local police force, which was trying to keep everything orderly and running smoothly for the sake of both residents and businesses, was completely overwhelmed and understaffed. Needless to say, many of the local residents were distraught at the inconveniences which all of this was creating for them.

I am not here to write about the validity or invalidity of these reported apparitions. However, the local bishop was highly skeptical and declared that the apparitions were false. What I do ponder, however, were the motives behind the thousands of people who would go there each month. What did they go to see?

If their motivation was purely out of love for our Blessed Mother and a desire to reach out to the sacred, then may God bless them for their faith! However, if their motivation was purely out of curiosity to see signs, the miraculous from Heaven, then they remind me of the Pharisees we read about in today’s Gospel.

If we turn back today’s Reading from Mark’s Gospel to one chapter earlier, we will find that these same Pharisees had just seen our Lord healing a deaf man with a speech impediment. And then Jesus went on to feed more than four thousand people with a few loaves of bread and some fish.

No wonder Scripture says that our Lord “…sighed from the depth of his spirit…” The eyes of the Pharisees where closed to the miracles of Love which Jesus had just provided! They wanted to see, what I would call, the “special-effects” kind of signs that Hollywood creates for us.

So, the people who flocked to Marlboro, New Jersey, looking for “special-effects” were not unlike the Pharisees we find in today’s Reading. The others, however, who went on pilgrimage, who went out of love and faith, they were the people who were truly living their relationship of love with God, showing their love and respect for the Blessed Mother, and possibly praying that their pilgrimage would allow them an opportunity to make a personal connection with the God whom they loved deeply, as is the case for the millions of faithful who make a pilgrimage to the Lourdes, Fatima and Guadalupe shrines each year, as well as other renowned Marian shrines around the world, such as Akita, Japan and Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

And is that not what each of us is trying to do – make a personal connection with all that we hold holy and sacred in our walk of faith? And we do this by always staying focused on what God desires from each of us – whether it be finding quality time to spend in prayer; whether it be utilizing our talents to benefit our fellow man, especially when we recognize that each and every one of us is a member of the Body of Christ; or whether we have the resources and the where-with-all to benefit the needs of the Church and the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ with whatever gifts God has blessed us.

Giving our best to God is our way of praising God, giving glory to His Most Holy Name! Abel realized this in his offering of “the best firstlings of his flock.” And the Bible tells us “The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering…” Cain, however, did not focus on giving God his best, and, for this, God looked with displeasure upon Cain’s offering

Our Lord’s words to Cain can be words which apply to each one of us as well, if we, too, fail to give God our best, “If you do well, you can hold up your head; but if not, sin is a demon lurking at the door: his urge is toward you, yet you can be his master.”

In other words, we can choose to do better in the way in which we live this gift of faith in our daily lives. We can open our hearts and embrace God’s invitation to each one of us, not depending upon external signs as a guidepost to our belief in the Eternal, but rather holding dear to the faith with which we have been taught, embracing God’s limitless Love for us – and paying that Love forward to others, as a sign of our first fruits offered to the God who created us, who redeemed us and who constantly sanctifies us.

With the help of God’s grace, may we cultivate within ourselves a deep and reverential love for the Word of God, and all that it teaches us. In the routine of our daily life, His Word, together with the Holy Sacraments, are the only signs we need for our salvation.

May His Word always guide us into a more intimate and loving relationship with all that is truly sacred, so that we may truly remain one with Him for all eternity.

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Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.

Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.

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Scripture for the Day

  • “The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with Jesus, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said, ‘Why does this generation seek a sign?’(Mark 8:11-12b)
  • “If you do well, you can hold up your head; but if not, sin is a demon lurking at the door: his urge is toward you, yet you can be his master.” (Genesis 4:7)
  • “And the LORD said to Moses, ‘How long will this people spurn me? How long will they refuse to believe in me, despite all the signs I have performed among them?’(Numbers 14:11)
  • “Jesus said to [Thomas], ‘Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.’(John 20:29)
  • “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
  • “By faith Abel offered to God a sacrifice greater than Cain’s. Through this he was attested to be righteous, God bearing witness to his gifts, and through this, though dead, he still speaks.” (Hebrews 11:4)
  • “But without faith it is impossible to please him, for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
  • “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)
  • “Through him then let us continually offer God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have; God is pleased by sacrifices of that kind.” (Hebrews 13:15-16)

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Prayer for the Day

“God, our Heavenly Father,
may I love You in all things and above all things.
May I reach the joy which You have prepared
for me in Your Heavenly Kingdom.

“Nothing is good that is against Your will,
and all that is good comes from Your Hand.
Place in my heart a desire to please You
and fill my mind with thoughts of Your Love.

“Inspire me to live Your Love in my life,
so all that I am and all that I do
may truly be an offering of myself
as incense before Your Heavenly Throne.

“Almighty and Eternal God,
bless me with the gifts and the fruits of Your Holy Spirit,
so that I may grow in Your Wisdom and enjoy Your Peace.
This I humbly ask in Jesus’ Most Holy Name. Amen.”

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