Sign Reading


• The Gospel today presents the call on the part of Jesus to learn to read the Signs of the Times. This was the text which inspired Pope John XXIII to invoke the Church to be more attentive to the signs of the times and to perceive better the calls of God in the events of the history of humanity.

• Luke 12, 54-55: Everybody knows how to interpret the face of the earth and of the sky… “When you see a cloud looming up in the west you say at once that rain is coming, and so it does. And when the wind is from the south you say it’s going to be hot and it is”. Jesus reports a universal human experience. Every body and each one, in his own country or region, knows how to read the face of the sky and of the earth. The body itself understands when there is threat of rain or when the time begins to change: “It will rain”. Jesus refers to the contemplation of nature since it is one of the most important sources of knowledge and of experience which he himself had of God. It was the contemplation of nature that helped to discover new aspects in faith and in the history of his people. For example, rain which falls on the good and the bad, and the sun which rises on the upright and on the unjust, helped him to formulate one of the revolutionary messages: “Love your enemies!” (Mt 5, 43-45).

• Luke 12, 56-57: …, but they do not know how to read the signs of the time. And Jesus draws the conclusion for his contemporaries and for all of us: “Hypocrites!” You know how to interpret the face of the earth and the sky. How is it you do not know how to interpret these times? Why not judge for yourselves what is upright? Saint Augustine said that nature, creation, is the first book that God wrote. Through nature, God speaks to us. Sin mixes up the letters of the book of nature and, because of this we have not succeeded in reading God’s message printed in the things of nature and in the facts of life. The bible is the second book of God, it was written not to occupy or substitute Life but to help us to interpret nature and life and to learn again to discover the calls of God in the facts of life. “Why not judge for yourselves what is upright?” Sharing among ourselves what we see in nature, we will be able to discover God’s call in life.

• Luke 12, 58-59: To know how to draw lessons for life. “When you are going to court with your opponent , make an effort to settle with him on the way, or he may drag you before the judge and the judge hand you over to the officer and the officer have you thrown into prison I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the very last penny”. One of the points on which Jesus insists most is reconciliation. At that time there were many tensions and conflicts among the radical groups which had different tendencies, without dialogue: Zealots, Essenes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians… No one wanted to give in before others. The words of Jesus on reconciliation which require acceptance and understanding enlighten this situation; because the only sin which God does not forgive is our lack of forgiveness toward others (Mt 6, 14). This is why he advices to seek reconciliation before it is too late! When the time of judgment comes, it will be too late. When there is still time try to change life, behaviour and way of thinking and seek to act justly (cf. Mt 5, 25-26; Col 3,13; Ep 4, 32; Mk 11, 25).

Personal questions

• Read the signs of the times. When I listen or read the news on TV or in the newspaper am I concerned to perceive the calls of God in these facts?

• Reconciliation, to be reconciled is the most insistent request of Jesus. Do I try to collaborate in reconciliation between persons, the races, the people, the tendencies?

Concluding prayer

To Yahweh belong the earth and all it contains,

the world and all who live there;

it is he who laid its foundations on the seas,

on the flowing waters fixed it firm. (Ps 24,1-2)

This reflection was produced by the Carmelites at