Each day, we encounter signs of every sort. Traffic signs, for example, are manmade signs that have deeper meanings attached to them. As we approach them, it is though they call out to us: Stop, Go, Caution, or Yield. In doing so, they yearn for us to obey them so that they may lead us to safety. But sometimes, we don’t obey them and realize the most unexpected realities.
A friend of mine is a retired State Trooper. From time to time, we meet for coffee and conversation. Always, I find myself fascinated with the stories he recounts. He once told me a story of how he was sitting in his patrol car on a crisp and sunny spring morning, when suddenly, a car flashed by at a rapid rate. After registering the speeding object on his radar equipment, he quickly engaged his vehicle, turned on the flashing lights, and proceeded to pull the driver over to the side of the road. As he walked toward the car, he could sense that the person was very angry. Upon arriving at the car door, he notified the woman that she was doing twenty over the speed limit, and asked for her driver license, registration, and proof of insurance. Angrily, she asked him if “he knew just who he was speaking to.” After replying that he did not, she noted that it was “her taxes that pay his salary.” Quickly, my friend thanked her for introducing herself as his employer and inquired as to the reason his wages were so low, while at the same time handing her a speeding ticket for $100. But, to his astonishment, she informed him that she refused to accept the speeding ticket, tore it in half, and threw it on the ground. And as the ticket hit the ground, my trooper friend calmly made it known to her that he was now writing her yet another ticket for double the amount—for littering! Now, holding two tickets in her hand describing how points were being added to her driving record, and evidence that she had a new indebtedness to the State of Michigan, it seemed that these were enough of a sign that she should leave peacefully and “get out of Dodge” before any further damage was done.
As Catholics, we know that the scriptures are full of signs that call us to conform our lives to God’s Law and be bold witnesses and signs of the truth. The commandments given to Moses in the Book of Exodus are precise and clear and provide us with a pathway for how we should live our lives. But in our day, it is no stretch to say that our culture has sought to blur these age old signs of truth, age old signs of right and wrong, age old signs which St. Thomas Aquinas taught have been written on the heart of every man and woman—according to the Natural Law. It seems as though our culture and increasingly our federal government are on a warpath to “set the record straight” and boldly proclaim that fundamental Church teachings on human life and marriage are outdated and flat out mistaken. They declare that such guideposts are no longer viable options to live by since they “restrain” us from the “full expression” of individual choice. Indeed, what once was wrong is now—right!
Across America, we need not look far to see signs that this is the case. From the website, End of the American Dream, author Michael Snyder outlined 11 Signs that America has already gone down the toilet. His top eleven include these: (1) All over the U.S., body parts of aborted babies are being bought and sold while the U.S. government provides taxpayer funding to this industry, namely Planned Parenthood; (2) In recent days, it was revealed that the website, Ashley Madison, was hacked and 37 million accounts were compromised. If you are unaware of this site, it facilitates adultery; (3) Rates of violent crime continue to increase; (4) Our federal government continues to squander dollars in bizarre ways; (5) The Obamaphone program is so generous that it now offers free cellphones to those showing someone else’s food stamp card; (6) During the most recent tax season, the Internal Revenue Service hung up on 8.8 million taxpayers seeking assistance; (7) While encouraging non-Americans to walk across our borders, the federal government has made it exceedingly difficult for law-abiding people to immigrate legally; (8) The federal government is increasingly “mining” for sensitive data (e.g., race, health, finances, etc.) on all Americans at a pace never before seen; (9) Today, an average American spends ten hours plugged into a biased media controlled by just six enormous media corporations; (10) Support for so-called “hate speech laws” (e.g., for those who do not hold to changing public opinion) are increasing; and (11) Our national debt has increased at a rate of more than $100 million per hour since Barack Obama entered the White House, thereby diminishing the living standards of future generations.
In the Gospel of John (2:15), Jesus angrily makes a whip out of chords and uses it to overturn tables and spill coins on the ground. Shortly thereafter, the Pharisees ask Jesus to provide them a sign (as if His actions were not enough). But like those who refuse to obey traffic signs or follow the commandments, the Pharisees could not understand the sign that Jesus had given them, which was the Sign of Jonah: “For you will destroy my body, which is the true temple, and I will rise again on the third day.” In his Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul warns us that Christ crucified will be a stumbling block for many, for they cannot read the signs. Deeper in the Gospel of John (14:23), Jesus provides us with two signs: how to live and how to love. “For if a man loves me, he will keep my word and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”
The bottom line is this. Each day, the Lord calls us to be faithful and follow Him. In doing so, we are challenged to become signs of God’s love—for others. A rather impressive sign, don’t you think?