A sign of contradiction
IT’S an expression that is first of all referred to Christ before it is referred to anyone who chooses to follow Christ. That’s, of course, all of us who call ourselves Christians and strive to be consistent to that dignity.
As defined or described in Wikipedia, the term refers to “someone who, upon manifesting holiness, is subject to extreme opposition. The term is from the biblical phrase ‘sign that is spoken against,’ found in Luke 2,32 and in Acts 28,22, which refers to Jesus and the early Christians.”
We might ask, why should Christ and all Christians who try to be faithful be a ‘sign of contradiction’? There can be many answers. But we can already gather a lot of ideas simply by taking note of what Christ himself taught and did.
In the first place, in the gospel of St. John, we are already given a description of the intriguing figure of Christ: “He was in the world that had come into being through him, and the world did not recognize him. He came to his own and his own people did not accept him.” (Jn 1,10-11)
From there we can already get the idea that Christ is someone who will go through contradictions of sorts. And his teachings would bear that out also. Consider the following words of his: “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Mt 20,16)
“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” (Mt 16,25)
“Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” (Mt 19,29)
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Mt 10,16)
“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.” (Jn 12,24-45)
St. Paul himself has also given an intriguing description of Christ when he said: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor 5,21)
In all of these, Christ would conclude by saying, “Whoever has ears, let him hear,” (Mt 11,15) as if trying to tell us that these words just cannot be understood by using our reasoning alone. They can only be understood and believed when there is faith, when one listens to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
We therefore should not wonder too much if Christ is considered as a sign of contradiction. The same when we ourselves can also be so regarded if we try to follow Christ closely.
The whole thing is part of the unavoidable tension that exists between the natural and the supernatural aspects of our life, the material and spiritual, the temporal and eternal, etc.