Some days I simply don’t get a chance to read the daily scripture passages until the end of the day. Yesterday, like most Mondays, was this way. I got my morning prayers in before I arrived at work, but then the routine of meetings and conference calls began and lasted the rest of the day. Finally, at about ten o’clock, after a two hour drive and getting settled in my hotel room bed, I had time to read them.
Yesterday’s Gospel was from Mark 8:11-13: “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? Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.’ Then he left them, got into the boat again, and went off to the other shore.”
The last thing I remember before falling asleep was thinking about how the Pharisees were hell-bent on finding some way to get rid of Jesus so He would stop rocking their boat; and about how He didn’t fall to their trickery. He simply admonished them and sailed away. Shortly after four o’clock this morning, I awoke still thinking about this story, but, from a personal perspective.
In my state of half-sleep, I remembered a few years ago, before I became Catholic, or even Christian for that matter, how I would sometimes wonder about the presence of God and Jesus. I would ask, “God, if you’re really there, give me a sign so I will know for sure.” Of course, nothing happened. What I didn’t know then was that He doesn’t want us to depend on signs. He wants us to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor 5:7).
I remembered that weekend in April 2012 when I finally accepted God as real and Jesus as my Savior. I told my friend that I didn’t know if I believed or not because I didn’t know how to have faith. He told me to forget being so analytical and logical and just accept it. He said faith is a gift God is trying to give me through the Holy Spirit, that it was free for the taking and all I had to do was accept it. Later that night in the church, I prayed my first real heart-felt prayer, a prayer embedded with real hope. I believe I accepted, in that moment, His gift of faith because I immediately felt a sense of peace; and, not only were my prayers answered, but I began to see signs of His presence everywhere I looked.
Then, I began to think about times recently when my spiritual life has been a bit dry, when I didn’t feel I could see or feel His presence no matter what I did. I remember praying, “Come on, God, I know you’re there. Help me out here; I need to feel you with me right now.” And, then, of course, I ended up disappointed. I realized God’s not to blame; it’s me and my lack of faith.
Why does faith slip away from me? Why do I not have any trouble trusting my family and close friends but forget about God? Perhaps it’s because I’m still learning to walk by faith and not by sight. I can see and hear those people close to me; I have hard evidence that they come through for me; and they are connected to the worldly things which, unfortunately, occupy most of my time. The shame is that I know God works in my life, too; I’ve experienced it so many times. His generous blessings are tangible examples of His endless love. But, I am often blinded by the urgent, less important aspects of life and forget that He is there to lead me through those times. I am humbled that I am not nearly as faithful as I would like to believe.
Do you get preoccupied and fail to recognize the Lord’s presence in your life? How do you get your faith back on track?
“O, loving and gracious Lord, grant me the Grace to strengthen my faith in You. Help me to never forget that You are only ever one prayer of affirmation away, one whispered, ‘Jesus, I trust in You.’ And, help me, please, to always thirst for You as You do for me. Amen.”
(Seeking Signs was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)
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Awesome. Thanks for sharing. Next time we get together, I will tell you about my recent mission trip to Tennessee with Glenmary Missions. The presence of God was everywhere.
Jerry Robinson said:
Good morning, Joe, and thank you. So this is how it works: FIRST you live your faith, THEN you see the signs. After posting this last night, admitting my lapses in faith, and praying for an increase in faith, here’s what I got when I prayed the Rosary this morning (from the meditation on the first Glorious Mystery): “Jesus….rekindle inside me the love, faith, hopefulness, and the gift of prayer. Let me ask Mary for the gift of an unshakeable faith.” Signs. You can’t make this stuff up.
I look forward to hearing about your mission trip. I’ve heard many good things about the Glenmary Brothers. I have a good friend at St. Francis who is close to them, also.
Trust and Faith in the Lord. Amen
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Jerry Robinson said:
Norm, I just read in the Catechism the following quote from St. John of the Cross (CCC 65): “Any person questioning God or desiring some vision would be guilty not only of foolishness behavior but also of offending Him, by not fixing his eyes entirely upon Christ and by living with the desire for some other novelty.”
So, you got it right, Fixing our eyes entirely upon Christ is having, like you said, trust and faith in the Lord.