Only One Sign Will be Given: Our Lady’s Triumph
Reading (Exodus 14:5-18) Gospel (St. Matthew 12:38-42)
In asking for a sign from the Lord, the scribes and Pharisees to some degree are pointing back to the things that had happened in Egypt with the signs and wonders that God had worked for the people to demonstrate that He was among them, that He was God. Of course, we know what happened is that even back in Egypt the people did not believe. God had worked these signs and wonders, but at the same time Pharaoh became more obstinate, the people were put into a deeper type of slavery, and they became even more rebellious against the Lord and more angry at Moses. The people, as we heard in the first reading, had seen all of these things occurring. They had been brought out of Egypt and out into the desert, they had despoiled the Egyptians, and now the first thing that happens when they see the Egyptians coming up behind them in their chariots and charioteers is to complain. “Why did you bring us out here? Were there no burial places in Egypt? Did you have to bring us out here so we would die in the desert?” They had no faith in God, even though they had seen all of the signs and wonders that God had worked.
Now, Our Lord, when He is asked to perform a sign, tells the people that there is not going to be one. Keep in mind that He had worked many, many miracles. Saint John says that all the things Jesus said and did would not be able to fit into all the books in the whole world. So there were lots of signs and wonders that Jesus was working. But recall too that He was not able to work any miracles for people who had no faith, like the people in His own town, for instance. And so these people come to Him and they want a sign for the entirely wrong reason. It was not that they were asking the Lord to do some extraordinary thing for them because someone was sick or in need, but rather they were looking for this for the wrong reason. And Jesus told them that for them there would be only one sign – because they would not believe in any of the miracles that He had worked anyway – and the only sign that would be given for them is the Resurrection – the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of the Lord. They rejected that as well.
For us, we live in a society that has very little faith and people are constantly saying, “If God is here, let Him prove it. Let Him show us that He’s here with some extraordinary sign.” It is not going to happen. The only sign that is going to be given to this generation is when it is going to be a little too late. People may have an opportunity at the last second to repent, but that is about all because they refuse to believe. They do not recognize the power of God in their midst. We live in a generation that is similar to what was going on back in Egypt; God has done extraordinary things and people refuse to believe. And in the midst of that, God allowed Pharaoh to drag the people down to a bitter kind of slavery. We live in a society where God has done many wonderful things and people refuse to believe. Now a far worse slavery than the one that the people of Israel ever had has been imposed upon us. It is a slavery to our own self, to our own senses, to our own desires. It is a total self-slavery, and the people of America have plunged headlong into it. And trying to get out of that is something that would be exceedingly difficult. The people wanted to be away from the slavery to Pharaoh. Unfortunately, they like being slaves to their own senses, to their own desires, and they do not want to get away from it. In fact, they do not want to see any signs and wonders from God because they like the hole that they have dug for themselves. As they wallow in the mire of their sins, they think this is something that is good because it is filled with pleasure and selfishness and so on.
The only sign that is going to be given to this generation is going to be the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart. At that point, it will be too late for them to turn around. She is a mother and certainly she is going to provide for them an opportunity to repent, but most of them will refuse because it means they will have to turn to somebody outside of themselves. Most people in this society have been so conditioned to look only to themselves that they will not turn to anybody else, even in a time of necessity. That will be the sign that will be given to this evil generation, to a generation that is more evil than any that has ever lived on the face of this planet – ever. Remember back in the late 1950’s, Pope Pius XII said that we live in the most sinful society the world has ever known. That was fifty years ago and things have not improved. So we can honestly say that we live – especially in this nation – in the most sinful society the world has ever known.
We need to make a choice to get away from that, to reject the ways of this society and the ways of the world and to keep our focus on Jesus Christ because that is our only hope. The day is coming, we do not know when but it is not too far off, when Our Lord is going to send His mother; and if we are not looking in the right direction, we too are going to look only at ourselves and we are going to miss what Our Lord is doing because that will be the sign to this generation. And the day that Our Lady comes will be a glorious day for everyone who is in the state of grace, for everyone who is looking forward to the emancipation from the slavery to self so that we can be true slaves of love for Jesus Christ. Those are the two options that we have. We need to choose Jesus. Our society tells us to look out only for ourselves, but we know where our focus needs to be. We need to make a radical choice to cut ourselves off from a profligate way of life in this society and to choose Jesus Christ and to look to His mother as the perfect way to Jesus Himself.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.