On Seeking a Sign

Mark 8:11-13

We do not need to seek a sign
To understand all things divine.
These are revealed to us in time,
Have faith and trust in God’s design.

The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with Jesus, seeking from Him a sign from heaven to test Him. He sighed from the depth of His spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” Then He left them, got into the boat again, and went off to the other shore. (Mark 8:11-13)


Those who are always seeking signs to prop up their faith are missing the message of the Gospel entirely. Instead of looking for signs, or praying to God for them, we should read the Bible more often, because the Word of God is more powerful than signs and wonders in converting our souls. Miraculous signs perk up our spirits for a while, but they are short-lived. Only God’s Word makes a lasting impression.

The hearts of the Pharisees were already too hardened by hypocrisy and pride to be convinced that Jesus was really the Messiah. No amount of signs or miracles from Him could change their unbelief. After all, he had just performed the miracle of feeding 4,000 people from 7 loaves of bread and a few fish, with 7 baskets left over (Mk.8:1-9). Earlier in another place, Jesus had also fed 5,000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish (Mk.6:41-44). He had also been healing many people of various ailments, and even casting out demons from the possessed in various places. What more signs did they need? Jesus would not be lured into ‘showing signs’ merely for their curiosity or entertainment.

“Why does this generation seek a sign?” Why are we constantly asking God to give us a sign whenever we face trials or tragedies? We fail to see them as signs pointing to a larger picture, to a more important message from Him. They may be warnings of even worse catastrophes to come if we do not reform our ways. Take the issue of global warming, for example. Most scientists have confirmed that this phenomenon is man-made, but can still be reversed if countries all over the world would only put a cap on their carbon dioxide emissions. There is clear evidence of glaciers melting, flooding low lying islands in the Pacific, and desertification spreading in Africa and the Middle East. But many countries still refuse to limit their industrial development, putting up more coal-fired power plants to feed their power-hungry factories and booming cities, buying more oil even if the price of petroleum has doubled in only one year, and polluting their rivers and atmosphere in the process.

We can never “see” the signs if we lack faith, and we have no faith because we do not pray to God and ask for wisdom. “Faith in God therefore is the key to our understanding of the signs of the times. As St. Paul wrote, “May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of glory in His inheritance among the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power for us who believe . . .” (Eph.1:18-19).

Direct our paths, O Holy Spirit with the signs of every event in our lives, and with the Word of God in Holy Scriptures to enlighten us, and give us hope in God’s glory. Amen.

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