Psalm 19: 8-11
1 Corinthians 1:22-25
Often times when we make decisions, life-changing decisions in most cases, we seek for signs to convince ourselves in making a choice. For example, when buying a car, we look for cues that seem appealing to us, and that appeal is what moves us to buy it. Money often has a lot to do with that appeal—“oh, that one is cheaper. I’m going to buy that one.” Or sometimes, it is something else—“I like color black. This car is black. Therefore, I’m inclined to purchase it.” In some cases, we make personal decisions out of the signs we recognize pointing towards a particular choice. “If we find a parking space to make to her party, then it’s meant for us to be together.” Sometimes, signs can be so obvious. “He has been so abusive. So, I don’t think I can be with him anymore. I’m going to break up with him.” We take it that signs hold a mystical value to every aspects of our lives. And rightly so, because if we make decisions out of our impulse, this world will most likely be in ruins. If the leader of a nation declares war against another simply because that leader is furious, this world would constantly be in unrest.
Signs, however form they may take, bears a tremendous role in the motions of our lives. And God knows that all too well. And rightly so, the gospel readings for today focus on signs.
The first reading narrates God’s sign of His covenant to His Jewish faithful. That sign is what we know now as the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are not merely a laundry list of what you should not do if ever you believe in God. Rather, they serve as one collective sign of three things about God: 1) His existence, 2) His faithfulness as He delivered the Jews from slavery in Egypt, 3) His eternal commitment to be with His faithful. In other words, they are a sign of the existing relationship between God and Man. Yet, down the centuries, Mankind has failed to recognize the sign by living by it. Because of sin, Mankind has turned away from what she has been looking for all along. An example comparing the relationship between God and Mankind is a love relationship between a man and a lady. At first, the relationship was great. Everything is great between them. And then all of a sudden, the lady finds herself running on cold feet for her love to the man. She tells him she does not have feelings for him anymore and so she walked away. The man does not give up. After the man’s relentless pursuit, the lady finds herself in love again and the love between them has rekindled. After a while, however, the lady finds herself running on cold feet again and turns away from the unconditional love of her lover. The man does not give up on her, for he truly loves her. He relentlessly pursues her until one day he decided to do something he’s never done before. The man came down to Earth to associate himself with anything that his lover has been going through. The time came when the man arrived to Jerusalem and saw what the Temple has been like for many years: “a house of trade”, where people were “selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money changers at their business”. The lady has lost touch of what the love the man has for her means. She hardened her heart over the centuries. The man, furious yet still loving, turned down the tables in fury and pushed the business traders away, calling out that “the house of His father must not be treated as a house of trades”. The lady asked him what sign he has for choosing to do such a thing, and the man said that he will destroy the temple and restore it in three days. The lady was not convinced with the sign the man gave, for she hardened her heart; she did not recognize the love the man has for her. A couple of days later, the man went through trial, was scourged, crowned with thorns, mocked, rejected, hated, carried a cross, crucified, questioned God, and died. From trial to death, He took upon himself all the suffering his lady can ever go through. And on Easter Sunday, He showed that His love is way more powerful than the failures of His lady.
St. Paul addresses this kind of love in his first letter to the Corinthians. He proclaimed this kind of love—foolishness in the eyes of mankind—as wiser than any philosophies mankind can ever conceptualize. This love, St. Paul proclaims as well, is stronger than human fortitude. In other words, Jesus Christ’s crucifixion is the love we ultimately long for that this world can never provide to us. We can experience all the satisfactions this world can provide through success, wealth, fame, power, sex, material things, drugs, alcohol. At the end of the day, however, these satisfactions only leave us empty because they never satisfy the ultimate cravings of our being, which is Love only God provided on the cross. Jesus Christ is the ultimate sign of God telling us “I love you”.
One thing that we never seem to understand is how relentless and intense God’s love for us. Jews sought signs, and Greeks sought wisdom. But mankind—men, women, Jews, Greeks, Americans, Europeans, Africans alike—have a universal hunger for Love. We did not find Love. Love found us. God found us. His love for us is so relentless that He went down to where we were and dealt with all our mess and imperfections.
And just like any relationship, there is a two-way responsibility. We believe that God fulfilled His divine responsibility of pursuing us all the way even if it meant going through death, a pursuit that is a sign itself. In response, He only asks us one thing as a sign of our love for him: our faithfulness to His love. As we move along this Lenten season, let us pray that our faith in the love of God for us grows stronger until the time of our death. Amen.