Father Linus Clovis: the sky is red
At the beginning of the 16th chapter of Saint Matthew’s Gospel, we read,
The Pharisees and Sadducees came. And to test him, they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “when it is evening, you say it will be fair weather for the sky is red, and in the morning, it will be stormy today for the sky is red and threatening. You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign shall be given to it, except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.Matthew 16:1-4
When we consider what Our Lord says, we know that he speaks not only to the people of the time who heard him with their bodily ears, but also to us, who, many centuries later, have the privilege and the honor not only of being disciples of Christ but also of having the Sacred Scriptures, and above all, the Church which authentically interprets the Scriptures for us. And the interpretation given to us finds its foundation and its certitude in what we call Sacred Tradition, which, alas, today is mightily disparaged and, sadly, the faithful are no longer able to hear the voice of Tradition, the voice of The Fathers, who were so much closer, not only to the disciples, the Apostles of the Lord, but, above all, who were close to Our Lord.
And so Our Lord has just finished feeding the multitudes with the loaves and the fish. Four thousand had been fed and then we’re told, immediately after that, the Scribes and the Pharisees came. They came feigning humility but their hearts were full of deceit. And this is what Our Lord addresses. They came and asked for a sign, not that they wanted a sign, but to test him even after the miracles he had worked; the blind seeing, the lame walking, the dumb speaking, demoniacs being freed; they still demand a sign and, not content with a sign, they want a sign from heaven.
Why do they want a sign from heaven? We go back and we think of Ahaz the king who has to make a decision, the political decision. He’s instructed by the prophet to ask the Lord, but Ahaz doesn’t want to have the Lord interfere in politics; in his business, in his human affairs. He knows much better. He doesn’t want a religious solution.
The prophet insists he asks. He says “ask for a sign as high as heaven or as deep as hell.” Ahaz hypocritically says “I will not put the Lord God to the test.” And so the prophet speaks and, of course, gives us a promise of the great sign: the virgin who will conceive. And this is a sign whom, today, the Pharisees and the Sadducees come to test.
So what does Our Lord answer? His responses is, as all of them are, not superficial but, in fact, they they go to the very heart of the problem. He said to them, “when it is evening you say it will be fair weather for the sky is red. And in the morning, it will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.”
It’s not a strange answer to give. In the evening, the sky is red and it’s going to be fair weather. In the morning, the sky is red and yet it’s going to be stormy and threatening. Is the sky always red? Obviously, Our Lord is not speaking just about the effects of nature, but he’s speaking about something far deeper and, certainly today, concerns us.
In regard to himself, when he said, when it is evening you say, it will be fair weather for the sky is red. Well, the evening he refers to, in fact, is the last age in which we live; the last days. It is evening. He has come. There is nothing more that will be given us for our salvation. For the Pharisees and the Scribes who had planned, plotted, or engineered his death, they thought if they killed him, if they dispatch him, then everything would be well; their kingdom would be secure. Caiaphas said that much, “don’t you understand? if we allow him to go on this way, the Romans will come and destroy us. It is better for one man to die than for the nation to perish.” And this is what Our Lord is referring to. They thought that if they could dispatch him, get rid of him, kill him, then everything would be okay. And the red to which he refers, of course, is his blood.
But what about the morning? In the morning, it will be stormy today for the sky is red, you said, and threatening.
After Our Lord’s death and he rose again on the third day and then convinced the disciples of the reality of his resurrection, the disciples went throughout the world, obeying the Lord’s injunction, spreading the news of salvation–the good news of salvation. And what price did they pay? Well, it was stormy for the Early Church. Their blood was shed. It was threatening circumstances for the Early Church; for the bishops and the priests the deacons and the laity, in their thousands were persecuted and their blood shed, but still the Church prospered and flourished. So, Our Lord, in saying this, that in the morning the sky is red, is referring to the blood of the martyrs.
And then he goes on, you know how to interpret the appearance of the sky and you cannot interpret the sign of the times?
Can we interpret the sign of the times? 100 years ago, an event, Our Blessed Lady appeared at Fatima. She gave a great sign: the sun danced in the sky. What greater sign could we need? Not only did she give the sign, but she had actually promised the sign some three months previously, and on the exact date and at the exact time that she said the sign will be given, it was given. A crowd of 70,000 saw it; people from diverse backgrounds, people who were opposed to the apparitions at Fatima, people who knew nothing about the apparitions at Fatima; they were all witnesses to the sign. And the request was made: Consecrate Russia. A simple request; consecrate Russia and she will be converted. If not, she shall spread her errors throughout the world. This simple request was ignored, despite the great sign. And so we are seeing what has happened. The morning has come and the sky is red, and it will be stormy and threatening in our times.
With the great tribulation that we are going through there is a temptation to despair, there’s a temptation to think that we have been abandoned by God, but far from it!
What does the Lord say. What did the Lord continue to say to the Scribes and Pharisees? He’d already told them that they were enabled, or rather, they were unwilling to interpret the signs of the times. He now says, an evil and adulterous generation seeks a sign but no sign shall be given, except the sign of Jonah. So he left them and departed.
And again, we can apply this to our times. An evil and adulterous generation: it is evil because it has abandoned God. It is evil because it’s rejected the authority of heaven. It is adulterous because it has joined itself to others, to other gods. And so, no sign will be given except the sign of Jonah: the sign of destruction.
In the regard to Fatima, much can be said in this along the same lines, for it is an evil generation that did not believe, an evil generation that abandoned God, abandoned the designs of heaven, ignored them, refused them, even at a Great Council. The simple request was ignored; dismissed as not relevant for our times. Adulteress, because they have joined themselves to the spirit of the world. And so, not even at the very head of the Church do we hear a voice that sounds like that of a shepherd; that voice has joined itself to the spirit of the times, and so, as the Lord has prophesied, no sign, no additional sign, another sign will not be given, except the sign of Jonah.
And so, Jonah is that sign of total destruction that threatens. Jonah will try to escape, but he will just endanger the very ones who are assisting him in his escape, namely, the mariners (the sailors) in whose ship he was sailing. And the only way in which they could save themselves was, in fact, by throwing Jonah overboard, and so likewise if we do not throw Jonah (the one who refuses to do the will of God) overboard, we also surely perish.
And therefore, listening to the voice of our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Fatima, let us continue to beat our Rosaries, to pray the rosary daily asking her to intercede for us, she who is the Star of the Sea. So that we do not perish. Let us ask her to give us the necessary courage to remain faithful to the authentic teachings of the Catholic Church, which is the voice of Christ for us today. Let us ask her to give us once more shepherds who will be faithful to the charge given to them, to look after the flock of Christ.
Video courtesy of Family Life International, transcript provided by WQPH