No sign will be given to an evil and unfaithful generation
Readings: 1st: Mi 6:1-4. 6-8; Ps 49; Gos: Mt 12:38-42
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico, the island of enchantment. He is the Chancellor of the Dioceses of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico; the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. For more details and comments contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
Today, the Monday of the sixteenth week of ordinary time, Matthew presents a very fierce dialogue between Christ and the Pharisees.
The Pharisees, made what seemed a very “humble and simple” request to Christ: “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.”
Indeed, it looks genuine. However, it seems more like the first and second temptations of Christ by Satan in the desert.
Both started with an “If statement”: “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread; if you are the Son of God, throw yourself down…” (Mt 4:3-6). Of course, “If statements” are conditioned to provoke a reaction.
Although, the request of the Pharisees is not an explicit “if statement”, however, it is an implicit one. What is at stake here, is the authenticity of the nature, and the mission of Christ.
So, it was a serious issue and Christ knew it. It was another temptation in disguise. It means, what sign would you perform to convince us that you are the son of God? If you do not show us a sign, we will not believe you!
Rather than succumb to this, Christ responded: “An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it…”
Ordinarily, one would have expected Christ to take advantage of this golden opportunity in order to “shine” or authenticate himself before them.
However, he did not succumb to their plot. First, he did not need to prove anything to them. Second, he knew that their problem was unbelief. Third, he knew that their request was a product of a malicious intent.
Today’s gospel teaches us a lot. We live in a world were “men and women of God” are under intense pressure to authenticate themselves. Of course, Mk 16:17-18 is the city of refuge, often cited out of context to support this notion.
Therefore, for many the quickest and easiest way to do this, is through miracle. So, if God did not grant an immediate miracle, we must fake one in order to confuse the people, so as to remain relevant to them.
When we do this, rather than glorify God, we glorify Satan. This was Satan’s trick and intention in the desert, subtly replicated in this “humble and simple” request of the Pharisees to Christ in today’s gospel.
What must be of utmost importance in our work should be to prayerfully, and humbly present the true word of God to the people. If it pleases God to seal our testimony with a miracle, he will certainly do it at the right time.
Miracles come out of true necessity. So, we must resist any pressure to satisfy people’s curiosity, and to falsely authenticate ourselves.
Peace be with you all!