At times, Jesus was really fed up with the Pharisees. When their arguments fail, they look for a sign. And then not like the poor and suffering, who seek healing or forgiveness or hope, but for a sign of power and authority, because otherwise they don’t think Jesus is worthwhile. Jesus knows that such a sign will only have a temporary effect on them. After all, He had already done so many other signs. So He leaves them and goes to ‘the other side’, to the Gentiles. That was the only sign they got!

From the discussions that Jesus did engage in, He emerges as the One for all nations, not just for His own people. But that means, also for us, that we have to say ‘no’ sometimes, and will have to accept that our message of acceptance is not always getting across. Maybe it’s even a good sign if that message sometimes doesn’t get across, because it doesn’t help much to tell everyone just what they want to hear.

For example, “Love your enemies” is not something that is easily understood, especially today, but it is important. I hope that we, too, sense when discussions are useful and when they are not. Let us not speak to impress or remain silent out of convenience, but let us feel what others really need from us and what we can offer. And so perhaps, as Psalm 71 also describes, we can be a sign ourselves.

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