12 February 2007: Monday of the 6th Week in Ordinary Time
Mark 8, 11-13: The extraordinary in the Ordinary
In Jesus’ time, people looked for God in the extraordinary, in strange and unusual events. For example, the people believed that the coming of the Messiah will be pre-empted by events in the heavens and the stars.
In the readings, the Pharisees demanded from Jesus extraordinary signs or miracles to prove his credibility. But, Jesus refused. He knew that whatever signs He makes, they wouldn’t listen anyways because the Pharisees have already shut off their hearts from the Gospel. Thus, when the Pharisees asked for extraordinary signs, it indicated their lack of faith. There is an atheist society in UP that sponsors debates about faith. They used to invite religious organizations, and I was once asked to join them. But I refused. We choose our battles. Like the Pharisees, they were not there with an attitude of openness.
We are no different from the Pharisees who like extraordinary signs: decades ago, we all rushed to Agoo, La Union, because the Virgin has appeared to Judiel, the visionary. During that time, there were more reports of apparitions all over the country. UP is not spared from this penchant for the unusual. There are those who suddenly fall to the ground when the see a cloud shaped like a face of a divinity.
I guess, when Jesus refused to perform extraordinary signs, he is saying that they do not need them. Jesus is right in front of them; they only have to open their hearts to see the Messiah they are seeking. Thus, the challenge for us is to see God in the ordinary and the normal and the routine. You see much of our lives is routine, regular and often repetitive. But Jesus said that we should open our eyes. St. Ignatius said, “See God in all Things” — the God in the blade of grass, the God in the early morning, the experience of God in the joy of eating with family or cleaning the house.
Only when we see God in the ordinary, that the ordinary becomes extraordinary.