“If only Jesus would give me a sign right now, then I would believe.” We have all heard people make these exclamations and, if we are honest with ourselves, we sometimes find ourselves saying the same thing.
We need signs. “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” says our Lord, “you will not believe” (Jn 4:48). An ancient principle says that human beings identify what a living thing is by what it does; this is a natural aspect of the human experience. For instance, we know a creature to be a bird because it does bird-like things. Jesus, the Word through whom all things were made, knows full well how we operate. While among us, he filled his ministry with miraculous signs and wonders, bringing people to faith in his divinity. Forgiving sins, healing the sick, and raising the dead are divine actions. Jesus, acting like God, did these things to show that he is, in fact, God.
It is through the Lord’s action in our lives that he gives us signs, and He is revealing his divinity to us even now. Through the promptings of the Holy Spirit in the silence of our hearts, the witness of the saints, the preaching of the Gospel, the Scriptures, and, above all, our reception of the Eucharist, Jesus is showing himself to us and inviting us into the mysteries of his life. In this way, Jesus reveals himself to us personally as our God and Savior, calling us to faith.
However, unless we ask for faith, we may miss the signs.
Even when Jesus was present as a man, his miracles did not bring all men to faith; their hearts were closed to the signs he offered. But for those who noticed and accepted the signs he offered, they asked for their faith to be strengthened. “I do believe,” exclaimed the centurion, “help my unbelief” (Mk 9:24). We can think also of what Jesus said to Peter: “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail” (Lk 22:32). Just as those who witnessed the signs of Jesus with their very eyes asked for faith, so too should we while awaiting his return in glory.
The Church, in her wisdom, has given us these forty days to prepare for the celebration of the Paschal mysteries. May we spend this time of silence and solitude identifying the signs Jesus is offering us in our lives so that, when we celebrate the greatest sign of all on Easter Sunday, we may proclaim even more boldly and resolutely, “I believe.”
Photo by Jens Johnsson