Summary: God’s miraculous signs never force our faith.

February 17, 2009

Mark 8: 11-21

Whenever St. Mark uses the phrase “this generation,” the words have a specific meaning. In the first part of this passage, Jesus says that “this generation” is always looking for a sign, but He would not give them one. The use of that phrase goes all the way back to Genesis, as we see Noah and his family and their justice contrasting with the injustice and evil of “this generation.” What does Mark mean?

We should first admit what he does not mean: he does not refer by the words “this generation” to the people born ten or twenty years on either side of the date of the saying. He is not referring to a birth cohort, but rather to a group of people afflicted with a bad attitude. Here, it is the Pharisees who are called “this generation,” and their name reflects their bad attitude. The word peroushim, transliterated “pharisees,” means “separated ones.” Their attitude is that external observance of the hundreds of prescriptions of the Law is the essential human response to the covenant of God. They seek a sign–and remember that Jesus has just given them the sign of feeding four thousand people–and a sign so blatant and miraculous that it would force them to believe. God never works that way–recall the number of so-called theologians who have tried to explain away the multiplication of the loaves in one way or another. God’s miraculous signs are always equivocal–they never force our faith. And the Pharisees could never accept the sign Jesus just worked, because he fed Jews and Gentiles together as a sign of the inclusive Church He intended to found. Jesus came to bring us together in faith. “This generation” means men without faith.

Today, we look back at the past nine years of our school and we see that many good things have happened, and many good people have gone forth from our community of faith. That faith helps us to believe that this school continues to be a work of God for the glory of the Holy Trinity under the patronage and protection of the Mother of Jesus. She has brought us together, and the grace of God has given us so much. Those without faith might give it another interpretation, but we pray for them and for a continuation of this mission for many generations to come.

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