Wednesday, 1st Week of Lent          

            “No sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah.”

            A friend told me of her dream in which she saw Padre Pio looking very sad. She asked him why he was sad. And Padre Pio replied, “I am sad because many people come to me and ask for miracles through my intercession; but very few are allowing themselves to experience the greater miracle: the miracle of conversion and renewal.”

            The vice of the generation about which Jesus speaks in today’s gospel reading is the quest for signs and only signs from the Lord. (Joseph Krempa) The people surrounding Jesus are enthralled with miraculous healings. Perhaps we can say that they are fixated to ‘miraculous’ signs that they overlook Jesus’ greater sign calling for conversion.

            Do we realize that we could also be like those people who eagerly seek ‘signs’? How many people who have experienced miraculous healing in their lives have also undergone conversion and renewal in their lives? Have become faithful Catholics and more constant in prayer? Have become understanding, patient, and forgiving of others? Have become more generous in service to the community?

            I like Joseph Krempa’s commentary and reflection on today’s gospel: “If a person becomes fixated on miracles alone to sustain faith, one miracle is never enough and more are needed.” “When the signs and miracles cease, faith begins to evaporate.” “Such a person is only attracted to a saint whose life is replete with miracles.” “Such an individual’s spiritual reading is confined to accounts of signs, wonders, and prophecies.”

            We began this season of Lent with the imposition of ashes on our foreheads, with the priest (lay minister) telling us: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” The Lord calls us to believe in the Gospel with the conversion of life shown by the Ninevites. The real miracles in our time are the miracles of a heart renewed to greater love of God and love of neighbor… the miracles of a mind conformed to God’s will… the miracles of a life truly centered on Christ and actively involved in his mission… the miracles of a Catholicism shaped by the Scripture and rooted in the Eucharist.

            When they occur, miracles are gifts to call our attention to the Lord who is with us all the time. The abiding presence of Christ is the real miracle that should constantly amaze us. (Joseph Krempa)

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