The ‘gotcha’ moment seems to be an established feature of contemporary journalism. The interviewee is posed a question designed to catch out, embarrass or shame. Here, the Pharisees are trying to catch Jesus out by challenging him to send a sign and hoping he won’t be unable to do so.
Jesus won’t have any part of it. The works he has already done are sufficient evidence of his mission. Moreover, discipleship isn’t about conjuring up signs to impress the masses but about the task of implementing the Kingdom, building a world where everyone and everything is respected and cared for. The incarnation is the joining together of the sacred and the secular, God and creation, where love and faithfulness meet; where righteousness and peace are embrace (Ps 85:10). The sacred is no longer separate from the secular.
God calls us to the Kingdom in our day-to-day encounters with each other. Nothing in our human interactions is separate from our partnership with God. Whilst God is supremely free to act, ours is not a god of the gaps, on call to pull levers and save us from the (sometimes devastating) consequences of our choices. We remain free to make or break. God even does not intervene to save Jesus from death.
Rather than being a side-show alley performer, Christ calls us to continue his work of building that Kingdom of love, faithfulness, righteousness and peace, of which the psalmist sang. I wonder how often, when we pray, Thy Kingdom come, do we realise that it is our role to make it so, in this sacred partnership with our Creator God? Thinking of Jesus’ miracles as blueprints for the Kingdom might help us understand just how we might move forward.
Brian Norman has been associated with the Passionists in various ways since he was three weeks old when he squared off with Fr Placid Millay CP over the baptismal font at St Brigid’s, Marrickville.