Important to recognise Signs
When he was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many believed in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people. (John 2, 23–24)
The context of the second chapter is important. Followed by the wedding feast (and the first sign of Jesus) in Cana, there is the scene of the cleaning of the temple. The above follows the temple scene. It is okay not to trust those who made his father’s house a market place. But why was Jesus not believing those who believed in him because of the signs he did? The evangelist says that he knows them well; or in some sense, their belief was not in a way that is acceptable to Jesus. And the same John says towards the end of the gospel,
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. (John 20, 30–31)
Signs have a purpose, which is to lead the person to faith. But it is worth remembering that it is not automatic. I don’t appreciate when Christianity is seen occasionally as a religion where God’s job is to do certain miracles/signs that we can believe in the same God (or miracle-worker???)
John’s critique of signs (2, 23–24) is interpreted by some as a licence to mistrust the signs or to banalise them. Some of them make the faith completley an intellectual or spiritual exercise. (Spiritual here should be understood as opposite to everything bodily or physical).
Beyond these two varieties, is there a thrid option? Jesus washes the feet of the disciples; he invites them to abide in him as he abides in the father; he celebrates the wedding feast with the family and disciples. Even in the midst of all high theology of John’s gospel, Jesus gives his mother and the beloeved disciple to each other (no over spiritualisation). And the risen Jesus prepares the breakfast for the disciples. He promises another paraclete (the Holy Spirit) to be with them; or he is not leaving them alone.
Signs are interesting and important. If it happens, thank God. Prayer, intellectual activity and meditations are required too. But don’t make none of them more important than experiencing the accompanying presence of God through signs, miracles and encounters (which in 99% of the cases is very ordinary) in the ordinary life; and to continue to work with that same God in simple and ordinary ways.
What Ignatius of Loyola said makes a lot of sense. Even if you miss the eucharist or prayers due to sickness, don’t miss the prayer of examen (I may not have followed him always…), which is not examining your life, but more importantly becoming consicous of the presence of God in your life, throughout that day.
Which of the images below???