Those Looking for Signs are Not Ready to Repent. (Homily for July 23, 2018). 



Those Looking for Signs are Not Ready to Repent.(Homily for July 23, 2018). 
“An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign; but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah” (Matthew 12:39)  
Last week Tuesday, we read about how Jesus upbraided the towns where most of his miracles were done because despite the abundance of signs and wonders, the people refused to repent. Matthew 11:21-22 reads: “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 
They probably took Jesus for a showman. They couldn’t see beyond the signs and wonders. Their faith in Jesus as a miracle worker did bring them to the realization that beyond the miracles, Jesus himself is all we need. Their faith ended with provision of earthly goods. They couldn’t see that Jesus brought something more; eternal life. 
Today, some people came directly to ask Jesus for a sign so that they would believe. In response, Jesus called them an “evil and adulterous generation.” Indeed, faith built on signs and wonders is evil and adulterous. It is evil because it does not touch the heart to repent; it is adulterous because it makes Jesus an option in the midst of plenty. After all, even the devil can work signs and wonders. 
If my faith in Jesus Christ is based on His ability to work miracles, the day I need miracles and I don’t get it, I would go looking for miracles somewhere else. Now, we can see why people jump from church to church, shrine to shrine. Like an adulterous spouse, they keep looking for something they think is missing in the one they have at home. 
A true test of faith is being able to stand firmly on your beliefs in the absence of signs. It is easy to talk about faith when God actually does something great and wonderful for you. But the true testimony of faith is how long you remain faithful when prayers are not answered. The true testimony of faith is NOT when a miracle happens, the true testimony of faith is when one is so moved to repentance from sin because one has encountered God. When Peter saw the great catch of fish, he fell down at Jesus’ knees and proclaimed: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8). 
Today, many of us are so excited in church with the display of “signs and wonders” but we never follow it up with repentance, we are the “evil and adulterous generation” Jesus is talking about. Jonah was such a bad preacher; he tried to escape the call, when he got there, he didn’t even say “change”, he announced doom and gloom, yet his message sank into the people. Solomon was wise but later became foolish, yet his half-wisdom brought in foreign expatriates. 
Today, we have Jesus Christ himself, body and blood, flesh and divinity with us, we have better preachers than Jonah; we have even gone digital. Yet, we remain stone-hearted. We insist on remaining stuck to foolish deeds of darkness.
In a time like ours; a time of great religiousity (churches opening up everywhere), happening alongside great social evils and moral degradation of society, the book of Prophet Micah is indeed a perfect food for thought because Micah’s time was perfectly similar to ours. Try and read the entire book of Micah and you will wonder if this book was written this very year. 
As Micah said in today’s first reading, what God requires from us is not burnt offering (heavy donations, tithes, harvest, bazaar etc.). God does not need thousands of rams, not even rivers of oil. God does not need our millions. God does not need our beautiful church buildings. 

What does God need? “Do justice, love, kindness and tolerance walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 Very simple. 
How I wish those preaching “that failure to pay tithes takes one to hell” will leave Malachi 3 alone and start preaching from Micah instead! How I wish those calling for signs and wonders will start calling for “Repentance.” How I wish these large bill-boards decorating our cities with beautiful pictures of pastors (“papa and mama”) inviting us to endless crusades will just be replaced with verses from the bible; verses that will touch the minds of people to start living right. 
No one wants to pay a hundred and fifty thousand naira for a bill-board to preach John 3:16 (for example) but we men of God are in hot competition for bill-boards to post our latest pictures in the name of crusade!!! So sad! Vanity!
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, your word is Truth, sink me deeper into the Truth. Amen. 
*Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Monday of the 16th Week in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: Micah 6:1-8, Psalm 50:5-23, Matthew 12:38-42).*
Fr. Abu



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