An evil and unfaithful generation
So says our Lord in today’s Gospel, but what’s wrong with seeking signs? Elsewhere we have read of just and holy people seeking signs, e.g., the story of Gideon’s fleece.
So, what could be wrong with seeking signs? Note the word “unfaithful” and remember the famous saying from the Epistle to the Hebrews, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith in itself does not rely on anything material or external: it is an internal assent of the will made possible by the grace of God.
Sometimes God does use signs as part of his plan of revealing his will and manifesting His glory (as in the case of Gideon), but the more our faith rests on externals, the less secure it is. For this reason, we should be careful about looking for signs.
Consider also the word “evil.” Ultimately, what is being talked about here is the evil of omission: people delay doing something good indefinitely or keep putting off reforming something sinful in their lives because they are waiting for the “right” sign. The classic words of the prophet Micah speak directly to this, saying in effect: you know what to do, you have been given the gift of faith, just do it.