Monday, July 18, 2011

In today's Gospel, Jesus is answering an "unfaithful generation" for seeking signs, when all the signs they needed were right before their eyes, unrecognized. He pointed to the example of the pagan Ninevites, receiving the "sign of Jonah" and responding to his preaching, and to the Queen of Sheba, recognizing the wisdom of Solomon and going out of her way to hear it. Jesus did not only refer to those who listened to Jonah and Solomon and leave it at that. He reminded his hearers then and now: "but you have a greater than Solomon here."
Today in Chicago, he probably would have pointed to the 10,000 who stood patiently in line in the yesterday's heat to listen to the wisdom of the Dalai Lama. The Buddhist leader is a sign for many who do not have faith--and he knows it. Yesterday (in a two hour talk) he reminded his listeners that identifying themselves as "secular" does not mean adopting an attitude of hostility to religion, and (sounding very much like Pope John Paul or Pope Benedict) he reminded the devout that "faith and reason must go together."
We have a greater than the Dalai Lama in Jesus, but it is good to know that the Dalai Lama is a "sign" that people can recognize and heed. Indeed, I hope they do.

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