Jesus' Words to St. Gemma Galgani
Gospel Reflection for July 24, 2023
“Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, ‘Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.’ He said to them in reply, ‘An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and there is something greater than Jonah here. At the judgment the queen of the south will arise with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and there is something greater than Solomon here.’” (Mt. 12:38-42 NABRE)
It may be easy to misunderstand this Gospel passage. Why would Jesus refuse to provide a sign to the scribes and Pharisees? Surely, if He simply provided a sign, then they might come to believe. So, why wouldn’t He?
Jesus’ refusal to provide the scribes and Pharisees a sign is not because He didn’t want to help them believe in Him, but rather, He wanted to call out their lack of faith. Jesus referred to the story of Jonah and explained that the people of Nineveh immediately repented upon being told of their sins. Yet, He explained, that the people of this generation who are stubborn and hard of heart, will receive an even greater sign than Jonah, and this sign will still not be enough for some people.
The sign that Jesus is referring to is His death and resurrection. Not only does this miraculous event demonstrate the power of our Lord and Savior to overcome death, but it demonstrates God’s love for us, and the lengths He goes for us in order to unite ourselves to Him.
Have we grown numb to this sign that God has provided for us? As Christians, we talk about Jesus’ resurrection all of the time. But, do we take the time to contemplate what Jesus went through for each and every one of us. For me. For you. We frequently hear God loves us. But what does that mean? Let’s contemplate this together.
When Jesus came to live a perfect and innocent human life, He was thinking of you. He knew how His life would end, and the severe torture and utter pain He would undergo, but He also knew where your soul would go if He didn’t offer His life as a payment for yours. Who else in your life would suffer for you? The people in your life who love you. And who would you suffer for? The people in your life who you love.
Jesus willingly took your place and suffered for you, because He loves you. Not because you did anything to deserve it. It was God’s will to save us from evil and death, so that we could spend eternity with Him in Heaven. Even though it caused Jesus so much pain, He carried out this will. Just like a parent loves their child, even when that child rejects them, Jesus loves us. During every word of harassment He faced, every whip from flagellation He bore, every thorn forced into His scalp and cranial tissue, every drop of the immense amount of blood He loss, during every foot He carried the heavy wooden cross on His lacerated shoulders and muscles, during every time He fell, during the time they ripped His clothes from His body and tore off His skin, while they hammered nails through His hands and feet, and while He hung on the cross in agony… dehydrated, famished, and exposed to the sun for about six hours, Jesus thought of you. At any moment He could have freed Himself from the severe pain and torture, but He didn’t, because to Him, YOU were worth the suffering. That is what it means to say that Jesus loves you and He died for you.
So, God HAS provided a sign for us. When we are discouraged or lack faith, may we look to His cross, and may the sign of Jesus’ resurrection be enough for us.
Sometimes, however, our own sufferings tempt us to feel unloved by God. In that case, I pray that you find comfort in Jesus’ words to St. Gemma Galgani, who often experienced the stigmata and who happily suffered greatly out of her tremendous love for Jesus.
“Do you know why I desire to send crosses to the souls that are dear to Me? I desire to possess them entirely, and for that reason I surround them with crosses, and I shut them in with tribulations so that they may not escape out of My hands; for that reason I spread thorns everywhere so that giving their affections to no one they may seek all their pleasure in Me alone. My daughter, if the Cross was not felt, it could not be called a Cross. Be certain that if you stand beneath the Cross you will never be lost. The Devil has no power over those souls who weep near the Cross. My daughter, how many would have abandoned Me, if I had not crucified them. The Cross is a very precious gift, and many virtues can be learned through it.”
“Words of Jesus on suffering -The reason for suffering,” at St. Gemma Galgani, at https://www.stgemmagalgani.com/2010/11/words-of-jesus-on-suffering-reason-for.html
Image: “St Gemma Galgani praying with hands clasped,” at St. Gemma Galgani, at https://www.stgemmagalgani.com/2020/11/st-gemma-galgani-book-available-for.html