REFLECTION FOR TODAY
February 15, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
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.” Mark 8:11–12
In our gospel reference today, the Pharisees want a sign from Jesus and he refuses, knowing that their hearts are hardened. Jesus had performed many miracles. He healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf and fed thousands with only a few fish and loaves of bread. But even after all of that, the Pharisees came to argue with Jesus and demanded a sign from Heaven.
The response of Jesus is quite unique. “He sighed from the depth of his spirit…” This sigh was an expression of His holy sorrow over the hardness of hearts of the Pharisees. If they had the eyes of faith, they would have no need for yet another miracle. And if Jesus would have performed a “sign from heaven” for them, even that would not have helped them. And so Jesus does the only thing He can—He sighed.
At times, this type of reaction is the only good one. We may all face situations in life where others confront us with harshness and stubbornness. When this happens, we will be tempted to argue with them, condemn them, try to convince them we are right, and the like. But sometimes one of the holiest reactions we can have to the hardness of our heart of another is to experience a deep and holy sorrow. We must also “sigh” from the depths of our spirits.
When one is hard of heart, rational talking and arguing will prove to be of little avail. Hardness of heart is also what we traditionally call the “sin against the Holy Spirit.” It’s a sin of obstinacy and stubbornness. In that case, there is little or no openness to the truth. When you experience this in the life of another, silence and a sorrowful heart are often the best reaction. Their hearts need to be softened and your deep sorrow, shared with compassion, may be one of the only responses that can help make a difference.
Reflect, today, upon any person in your life with whom you regularly argue, especially regarding matters of faith. Examine your approach and consider changing how you relate to them. Dismiss their irrational arguments and let them see your heart in the same way that Jesus allowed His divine heart to shine forth in a holy sigh. Pray for them, have hope, and allow your sorrow to help melt the most stubborn of hearts.
My compassionate Jesus, Your heart was filled with the deepest compassion for the Pharisees. That compassion led You to express a holy sorrow over their stubbornness. Give me Your same heart, dear Lord, and help me to grieve not only over the sins of others, but also over my own sins, especially when I am stubborn of heart. Melt my heart, dear Lord, and help me to also be an instrument of Your holy sorrow to those in need of this grace. Jesus, I trust in You.