Dear Father Angelo,
Thank you for the service you are offering to all of us. I am writing to ask if you could clear up this doubt of mine: in a Christian perspective, how should we interpret signs and coincidences in our everyday life?
One example is the miracle of the dancing sun in Medjugorje. We cannot deny the existence of signs sent from God. But what is their purpose? Are they meant just to lead our souls back to God and to manifest the greatness of His might? Or does He send them to us also to tangibly help us in our material needs?
Moreover, do these signs and coincidences always come from God? I ask you this question because, as far as I know, the Koran talks about signs as well. Not to mention the role of signs and messages delivered “from Destiny” in eastern philosophies, astrology, and in so many beliefs that do not belong to the Christian world.
But who is this destiny that delivers us messages? Are we really supposed to believe that God is the real messenger? Can such messages also come from Satan (since other philosophies or religions talk about this kind of signs?)
How to discern? Is it possible that sometimes we tempt God by trying to interpret the events of our lives as divine messages? Coincidences might just happen by chance… But does chance exist in the Catholic view?
Can astonishing signs or coincidences be delivered with God’s permission by our beloved ones who have already passed away, especially if we have explicitly invoked them (“I beg you, send me a sign!”)? Or can such signs have an evil origin?
Thank you so much for your kind attention,
1. The word “sign” has different meanings in the Sacred Scripture.
For instance, Saint John calls “signs” the miracles that Jesus worked, because they are signs of his divine power and of the goods that He wants to grant to us.
2. The miracle that Jesus worked in the wedding at Cana (when Jesus turned water into wine) is called “sign” as well. It is the sign of His divine omnipotence and of the abundance of grace that He pours out on marriage.
The raising of Lazarus is equally a sign of His divine omnipotence. It shows in particular that He is truly «the resurrection and the life», as He said in the Gospel.
3. Sometimes the word “sign” refers to an assurance or a testimony delivered from heaven. In this sense, the Jews asked Jesus for a sign that He was really the Messiah they had been waiting for. Some of the signs in the heavens bear testimony of the loyalty of God, such as the rainbow that appeared after the Great Flood.
4. Sometimes the sign is an admonition, a warning sent from Heaven for our salvation.
In this perspective Jesus interprets some events that happened in his days and that left a mark on people. For example: «He said to them in reply, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them — do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!” » (Luke 13, 2–5).
5. Sometimes signs have a prophetic meaning and they point at events that are about to happen. Jesus has mentioned the signs for the destruction of Jerusalem: «If this day you only knew what makes for peace — but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. They will smash you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation» (Luke 19, 42–44).
6. Finally, there will be signs also for the end of the world: «And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming upon the clouds of heaven with power and great glory» (Matthew 24,30).
7. Whoever has the Spirit of God is able to discern the salvific message hidden behind signs and perceives that the Lord is speaking to him always and everywhere.
I wish you to be always full of this spirit, I bless you and I entrust you to the Lord in this beautiful feast that is dedicated to the Virgin of the Rosary of Pompeii.
Translated by: Alessandra N.
Verified by: Sara Bellei