I remember learning to drive before the advent of personal GPS devices. I remember getting directions that involved both signs and physical landmarks to get from one place to another. Take a left on River St. and go down until you see the mailbox with a yellow bird on it, then we’re three houses down on the right. Nowadays, I’m more likely to just plug an address into my phone and let it guide me moment by moment down the comforting little blue line until I get to the red destination pin. I hardly have to pay attention to my surrounding at all while the little voice just coaches me turn by turn. But, in truth, I’ve become overly dependent on it. I get a little anxious when I try to do without it because it forces me to put my trust in a different system of navigating that doesn’t offer real-time reassurance. There is simply much more trust involved. Trust that the signs will be there when I need them, trust that I will make the correct turns, and even trust that if I get off track, I’ll be able to get back on course and reach my destination. Looking for signs and waiting for direction can be a precarious thing in the spiritual life.
Do you find yourself waiting on a sign from God? Or, have you ever suddenly beheld a sign that arrested your attention and pointed you in a new direction. God’s engagement with people often catches us unaware or seems absent when we want it most. We may feel like things are going just fine until suddenly our circumstances change and we are gripped with uncertainty and fear. Or, we may be so much on auto-pilot that we don’t realize when a new course of action is necessary. Todays readings highlight both of these kinds of encounters with God and help to point us to Jesus who is an unfailing sign to return to the heart of God.
Is. 7:1-9/Ps. 48/Mat. 11:20-24
It’s hard to know quite what to make of this: the “woes” to Chorazin and Bethsaida, the damning to hell of Capernaum. I’m tempted to suspect that this anger actually reflects the concerns of a later generation. Matthew seems to have been written about 50 years after Jesus’ death. Perhaps Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum were Jewish communities that resisted conversion to Christianity, or even persecuted Christian Jews.